Living on the edge: 72% have unprotected sex

3 Oct

MUMBAI: As many as 72 per cent of sexually active young people across the country have had sex with new partners without any protection, an international survey says.

At least 40 per cent of the youth polled in India say they had problems accessing contraceptives when they needed, while 36 per cent said they knew a close friend/ family member who has had an unplanned pregnancy.

Nearly a one-third got wrong information about contraception from friends.

The survey, conducted in April-May this year, focused on the issue of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Eleven international NGOs, including International Planned Parenthood Federation, Population Council, and Women Deliver, were a part of the initiative, launched by Bayer HealthCare in 2007 to mark world contraceptive day (Sept 26).

This was the third such survey, the people covered were in the age bracket 15-35.

Titled ‘Clueless or clued up: Your right to be informed about contraception’, the survey shows alarmingly high levels of unprotected sex among the youth.

It also finds that respondents avoid asking healthcare professionals about contraceptives, and many cannot rely on their schools to provide comprehensive sex education. The online survey was carried out in 29 countries with over 6,000 participants. In India, the number of respondents was 200, with an equal breakup among both the genders, aged between 20 and 25, drawn from all the states. Worldwide around 41 per cent of the 208 million pregnancies which occur each year are unintended. In addition to this, one in 20 adolescent girls gets a bacterial infection through sex every year and the age at which infections are acquired is becoming younger and younger.

Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India’s public awareness committee chairperson, Rajat Ray, said, “What the results show is that too many young people either lack good knowledge about sexual health, or do not feel empowered enough to ask for contraception, or have not learnt the skills to negotiate contraceptive use with partners. “It shows that young people are not receiving enough sex education or are exposed to the wrong type of information.”

While India tops the list in unprotected sex (72 per cent say they have had sex with new partner without contraception), the percentage is over 50 in China, Estonia, Kenya, Korea, Norway and Thailand; over 40 in Australia, Chile, Colombia, Britain, Indonesia, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland,Singapore, Sweden and Turkey.

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