58% of adults have never had an STI test. A further 12% haven’t had one in over 5 years. 33% of adults said they never received education about STIs at school. 26% of adults revealing that they’d only get an STI test if they experienced symptoms.
Almost three in every five Brits (58%) admit they have never had an STI test, with a third (32%) also stating they don’t get tested more frequently because they don’t believe they are ‘at risk from STIs’, according to new research from Medicine Direct.
The survey of 2,368 Brits illustrates that more needs to be done to normalise regular sexual health testing and reduce stigma around STIs amongst adults.
The findings come as part of a campaign called ‘Fruit of Your Loins’, which aims to raise awareness of STI symptoms and increase conversation surrounding STIs – in the hope of reducing the taboo surrounding them. The campaign uses real fruit to simulate STI symptoms in an effort to make them easier to spot and accessible to see.
33% of adults said they never received education about STIs at school, and a further 20% found their education about STIs to be poor or awful – highlighting the need for increased focus on positive sexual health routines in sexual education.
Despite there being 422,000 diagnoses of STIs in 2017, the research also illustrates a lax approach to regular STI testing, with 26% of adults revealing that they’d only get an STI test if they experienced symptoms. This is despite the fact that some STIs, such as Chlamydia, can be largely symptomless and, if left untreated, can lead to reproductive complications and infertility, which is why it’s important to highlight the need to get regular checks and also monitor for symptoms. A further one in ten adults would only get an STI test if their sexual partner told them they had an STI.
Adults also display a reluctance to discuss their sexual history with their partners, with nearly a quarter (23%) stating that they would never feel comfortable discussing their sexual history with their sexual partner.
Other key statistics found by the survey:
- 85% of 53-71 year olds have never had an STI test
- 75% of Edinburgh’s adults and 67% of Glaswegian adults have never had an STI test
- Men were 38% more likely than women to have never had a test (69 vs 50%)
- Adults are more likely to turn to Google instead of their partners for advice (11% Google vs 7% partners)
- 18% wouldn’t be confident spotting STI symptoms
- 5% would speak about their sexual history after sleeping together for the first time
- 2% think STIs are a complete myth
Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct, said:
“In light of our findings, we made our fruity guide to STI symptoms to try and raise the conversation about positive sexual health and to make it easier to spot potential symptoms.
With how easy it is these days to get your sexual health checked – whether by postal tests, sexual health clinics or your GP – we’ve identified a real area of improvement for our sexually active population.
“It’s worth remembering that for some STIs, such as chlamydia, there can be no visible symptoms – but they can be very damaging if left untreated.”