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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 00:47 GMT
Britons 'losing virginity at 15'
couple kissing
The survey suggests many young people do not practise safe sex
More than a quarter of young Britons claim to have lost their virginity when they were 15, according to a survey.

The average age for having sex for the first time is 17 in the UK.

Separate research shows that worldwide the average age is 18.


We need to continue to educate people - especially young adults - about the importance of good sexual health

Sarah Rose, Durex marketing director
The survey, by condom makers Durex, also revealed that the Scots have the most active sex lives, having sex 117 times a year compared to the national average of 110.

Scots also have more lovers than those south of the border, the study indicates.

Those aged between 16 and 55 said they had had more than 10 sexual partners, compared with an average of nine among the rest of the UK.

Taking risks

The report indicates that 30% of 16 to 20-year-olds in the UK are not heeding safe sex messages, and had unprotected sex in the past year.

This compares to just 7% of the over-45s.

Top sex symbols for British men
1= Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kournikova
3 Jennifer Lopez

Sarah Rose, Durex's marketing director, said it was vital young people listened to the safe sex message.

"While many people are clearly listening to the safer sex message, there are those, particularly among the younger age group who are choosing to take risks," she said.

"We need to continue to educate people - especially young adults - about the importance of good sexual health."
Top sex symbols for British women
1 George Clooney
2 Mel Gibson
3= Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, said the report confirmed the association's fears that young people were taking risks with their sexual health.

"They are particularly susceptible to unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI), with 16 to 19-year-olds demonstrating the highest increases in diagnoses for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital warts.

"Young people may appear to know it all, but the reality is very different.

George Clooney
Sex symbol: George Clooney
"Only by educating young people about the positive aspects of sex including the effective use of contraception and the avoidance of negative outcomes can we hope to combat these growing trends."

Durex also asked British men and women who set their pulses racing.

Nearly a quarter of women said their top heart throb was actor George Clooney, followed by Mel Gibson, and then in joint third position, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Men rated Friends actress Jennifer Aniston and tennis player Anna Kournikova as the world's sexiest women - each receiving 15 % of the vote.

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez came third, with 13% of the votes.

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Health
Sex bug renders drugs ineffective
07 Dec 00 | Health
Sex diseases on the increase
24 Oct 00 | Health
Parents 'ignoring sex education'
10 Oct 00 | Health
'Virginity' scheme under fire
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