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Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
25% of virgins 'ignore safe sex'
Teenagers kissing
More than 26,000 people were quizzed on sex
More than a quarter of people in the UK do not use contraception when they lose their virginity, a survey has claimed.

The poll by condom makers Durex of more than 26,000 people in 26 countries puts the UK in the bottom half of the table for practising safe sex.

Greece topped the table, with 88% of first timers using contraception.

The study also suggested 14% of people in the UK were under the influence of either drugs or alcohol when they first had sex.

The research also indicated teenagers were more likely to use contraception than those in their 20s, suggesting safe sex messages were working.

While nearly 80% of the 16 to 19-year-olds surveyed used contraception the first time they had sex, the figure dropped to 60% for those aged 20 to 24 and just above 50% for 25 to 34-year-olds.

This shows that we should not forget about older age groups when it comes to safe sex messages
Family Planning Association spokeswoman

People aged 65 and above are eight times less likely to have used any protection when they lost their virginity than 16 to 19-year-olds, according to the survey.

Experts suggested this was related to the lack of access to contraception 40 years ago and the fact that more people waited until they were married before having sex.

Greece topped the "safe sex" poll with 88% of virgins using contraception when they first have sex, followed by Poland with 86% and Thailand with 84%, compared with the UK on 74%.

However, that was better than the US, Australia and France which all hovered around the 60% mark.

The study indicated women were 25% more likely than men to take precautions but are more likely to feel pressured - with 28% saying they felt under pressure, compared with 15% of men.

Youngsters need to receive greater support, through comprehensive sexual education programmes involving schools, health services and society at large
Peter Roach, from the Durex Network

Almost half of women also regret their first sexual experience, compared with 32% of men, according to the survey.

It suggests the global average age to first have sex is 19.25 years.

In the UK it is 18.3 years, compared with Malaysia, which had the highest average age at 23, and Austria, with the lowest at 17.3.

A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association said: "The figures are broadly what we would expect.

"This shows that we should not forget about older age groups when it comes to safe sex messages.

"It is easy to assume that as they may have been in relationships they know what they are doing, but this is not always the case. We need to have a renewed focus on them.

"But, of course, having better sex education is essential. Some schools are very good, but this is not always the case."

Peter Roach, from the Durex Network, the company's campaign arm, agreed.

"We believe youngsters need to receive greater support, through comprehensive sexual education programmes involving schools, health services and society at large."


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