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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 00:20 GMT
'Promiscuous' Britain uncovered
Young men with condom packet, picture posed by models
One in four men use condoms consistently during sex
Britons are more promiscuous than ever before, a major national survey suggests.

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles 2000 (Natsal 2000) found that men and women have more sexual partners than they did 10 years ago and are more likely to be unfaithful.

Details of the survey, published in this week's issue of The Lancet, also reveal that more men are paying for sex and more people are contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

However, the survey found that more people are using condoms during intercourse suggesting that the safe sex campaigns of the past decade have been effective.

Click here for the figures in detail

Information from these studies will be used by the Department of Health to give us a sound evidence base for policy making

Health Minister Lord Hunt
One in four men and one in six women said they now used condoms consistently during sex compared with less than one in five men and one in seven women in 1990's survey.

The study of 11,161 people between the ages of 16 and 44 from across the UK found that a minority - one in five men and one in four women - have had one sexual partner over the course of their lives.

This compares with one in 12 men and one in 28 women who have had more than 10 partners in the last five years.

This figure rises sharply among those aged between 16 and 24. One in seven young men and one in 10 young women have had more than 10 partners in the last five years.

The survey also found a sizeable number of people who have had concurrent relationships or have "two-timed" during the past year. Some 15% of men and 7% of women admitted to this.

Again, the figure jumps for those in the 16 to 24 age group. Some 21% of young men and 15% of young women said they had "two-timed" during the past year.

The survey also shows that the number of men who have paid for sex in the past five years has doubled since 1990 to one in 23, rising to one in 11 in London.

STI rise

One in 10 of those questioned said they have had an STI, with chlamydia ranking as the most common infection.

However, Dr Kevin Fenton, consultant epidemiologist with the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS), suggested even more people may have had a STI.

"People may be shocked to learn that one in 10 of us has had a sexually transmitted infection. Yet even this is likely to be an underestimate as many infections have no obvious symptoms, and people often don't know they're infected."

Figures from the PHLS, released Friday, show that rates of key STIs have rocketed in the past five years - diagnoses of gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have more than doubled since 1995.

Aid health policy

The government is planning to launch a new sexual health strategy next year to tackle the rise in STIs.

Health Minister Lord Hunt said the Natsal findings would inform the strategy.

"Information from these studies will be used by the Department of Health to give us a sound evidence base for policy making in key areas of public health."

The BBC will screen a three-part documentary, called Sex Life, featuring the results of the survey in January 2002.

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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"People now have more partners than ever before"
Bishop of Winchester
"We're eroding the social structure on which humanity is based"

Too much sex?
Are you more promiscuous than ever?
See also:

30 Nov 01 | Health
Education 'prevents underage sex'
27 Nov 01 | Health
Unprotected sex risks young lives
27 Jul 01 | Health
Fight steps up on sexual diseases
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