Educated young people in Sweden who are sexually active are startlingly uninformed about risks.
An online poll of 4,714 Swedes aged 15-24 found that only seven percent realized that there was a high risk of contracting the virus that caused Aids when not using protection and 40% were not even sure how HIV was contracted. Even worse, merely 56% actually practiced safe sex by using a condom.
The study, commissioned by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, also reported that only 51% of girls and 56% of boys in the 15-19 age group believed it was a given precaution to use a condom when having intercourse with a partner with whom they were not in a committed relationship. Proving that age doesn't necessarily bring wisdom, in the next group of men from 20-24 years old, 26% said that they would rather risk contracting a sexually transmitted disease before missing the opportunity to have sex at a time when they didn't have a condom handy.
A total of 468 people contracted HIV in Sweden in 2009. About 38,000 were infected with chlamydia, according to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control. Disregarding these totals, members of the Red-Green Socialist, Milieu and Leftist party alliance who are campaigning for the next election are calling for a lift of the requirement that persons carrying the HIV virus be identified and also required to inform their sex partners that they carry the disease under penalty of law.
"The question is how many will get HIV and how many young people will become infertile (as a result of a chlamydia infection) before condom use becomes obvious with new partners. We have to start working on attitudes," said Sweden's Health Minister, Maria Larsson, who heads the National Council for Coordination of HIV Prevention, in an open letter to the daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter.
Larsson pointed out that young Swedes "in principle" had a positive attitude to condoms, but did not always put the theory into practice. A Swedish national campaign that is in the first of its seven year long stretch hopes to cut the spread of HIV in Sweden in half by 2016.