A fifth of young people don’t understand what STIs are

Françoise Facella
Communications & Events
  • A fifth of young people don’t understand what STIs are
  • Over a third of young adults have never had an STI test and 1 in 5 of young adults admit they do not really understand what sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are or have no idea about STIs
  • Nearly a third (29%) of under 25s who have been tested for an STI have tested positive
  • 80% of under 25s have had an awkward encounter during sex, including a quarter of people being interrupted by a parent
  • Nearly three quarters of young adults have injured themselves during sex

Over a third (36%) of young people aged 18-24 have never been tested for an STI, with one in five (20%) of them admitting they do not really understand what STIs are or confessing to having no idea about STIs, according to new research.

Young people under the age of 25 experience the highest STI diagnosis rates in the UK. Thirty percent of young people who have had an STI test have tested positive for one.

The new research carried out by The Mix – a digital support charity for under 25s – looked into the sexual behaviours and awareness of STIs among young adults across the UK to launch their new STI campaign, Getting Some? Get Tested. It found that of those who have never had an STI test, almost half (44%) felt they didn’t need to get tested because they always had protected sex while 20% said they were just too embarrassed. Concerningly, the top reason young people would get an STI test was if they had symptoms after sex, even though most STIs are symptomless.

Young people may need more than STI tests to keep their sex life safe, as nearly three quarters (72%) of them have injured themselves during sex, according to the Getting Some? Get Tested research, and 80% have had an awkward encounter during sex, including a quarter of people being interrupted by a parent.

Top 5 Sex Injuries (18-24 year olds)

  1. Pulling a muscle (31%)
  2. Hitting heads with your partner (30%)
  3. Hitting your head on a wall (30%)
  4. Falling out of bed (20%)
  5. Burns (19%)

So, what would encourage young Brits to get tested for STIs? Honest communication and pillow talk may be a solution, as 41% of young adults who have never had an STI test said they would get tested if a new sexual partner asked them to. Over half of respondents (53%) said they would ask their sexual partners if they’ve ever been tested before having sex with them. Women clearly do not shy away from frank discussions in the bedroom, with a quarter (25%) of them saying they would always ask if someone had undergone an STI test before having sex versus 50% of men admitting they would never ask.

Despite Public Health England’s recommendation for sexually active people under 25 to get tested every year, and on change of partner, there is a clear need for more awareness of what STIs are and the importance of getting tested amongst young people.

The Mix’s new campaign, Getting Some? Get Tested, aims to highlight the real-life impact of STIs, build awareness of the importance of STI testing by working with vlogger Lucy Moon and encourage young people to go get tested by locating their nearest STI clinic through the campaign website.

Zoe Bailie, Director of Brand at The Mix says, “We know young people have a lot to deal with and testing for STIs isn’t always the first thing they think about when it comes to their sex life. ‘Getting Some? Get Tested’ is a sexual health campaign aiming to not only educate young people about the need to think about their sexual health, but also to understand that their sexual health could affect their partners’ as well.”

By increasing awareness around the ease of getting tested, and the fact that common STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, are easily treated with antibiotics, Getting Some? Get Tested aims to encourage young people to go get an STI test so they can prevent complications that may arise from STIs recurring, such as infertility or other diseases.

“Being young is all about experimenting and having fun, including when it comes to sex. Pop culture may be seen to encourage short term sexual relationships without talking about protection and STIs, which can put young people at risk. With many STIs being symptomless, young people need to get tested to be sure they don’t have an infection and don’t put their partners at risk. Getting tested for STIs is about keeping your sex life healthy (so it stays fun) and supporting positive sexual experiences,” says Dr Martin Godfrey, GP, South London.

Getting Some? Get Tested launches on 30 July 2018 with a nationwide online campaign targeting young people under 25. Find out more information about STIs and where you can get tested by visiting www.gettingsomegettested.co.uk.


Notes to Editors:

About STIs

More than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites are known to be transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. More than 1 million STIs are acquired every day worldwide. In the UK, young people (aged 15 – 24 years) experience the highest STI diagnosis rates, with young women having higher diagnoses than men.i Compared to people aged 25 to 59 years, rates of STI diagnoses in this age-group are twice as high in men and six times as high in women.i Chlamydia is the most common STI in people 24 and under.

About the Research

The research was conducted by Opinion Matters, with 1,012 UK male and female respondents aged 18 – 24 who are sexually active between 19th June 2018 – 26th June 2018. The survey was conducted online, with respondents reached via an online access panel. Opinion Matters abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

Getting Some? Get Tested is supported by Hologic.

Media Contacts:

Francoise Facella
07766 660755
[email protected]


Published on 30-Jul-2018