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Belt and braces approach to sexual health

April 14th, 2006

Dr Petra

The organisation Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia (SH&FPA) have launched a new campaign to protect women from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Dubbed ‘2 to tango’ the campaign advises women use the contraceptive pill to protect against unplanned pregnancy, and use condoms for sex to protect against STIs.

It’s aimed at 16-25 year olds who have the highest rates of both unplanned pregnancies and STIs. Chlamydia’s a particular problem that’s affected 170,000 women since 2000.

Given the STI rates are also high in the 16-25 age group in the UK we may also look to the ‘2 to tango’ campaign for ideas.

Recent research has shown many people in that age group lack knowledge about STIs, with some young people incorrectly believing only women get chlamydia, or the pill protects against STIs.

However, for any campaign to work it has to do more than just focus on women. Young straight women may find it easier to control their own fertility using the pill, but may find it a lot more difficult to persuade a male partner to use a condom.

Campaigns and educational programmes really need to target men in the 16-25 age group to ensure they use condoms to protect against STIs, and also in case their partner isn’t using another form of contraception.

Joint sex education campaigns that encourage condom use and communication about sex between partners will be more effective than just telling women to use condoms and the pill.

After all, it does take two to tango.

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