By Dannielle Baker
More than 70 per cent of students have had unprotected sex but have never been tested for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to research.
Over 1,000 young people were surveyed in February ahead of sexual health awareness week in colleges and universities across the country. Eighty-six per cent said they were sexually active, but 74 per cent stated that they have had unprotected sex.
One third-year KU student, 20, learned his lesson the hard way after contracting chlamydia through unprotected sex.
“I have never been a fan of condoms, and always trusted the other person when they said they were on the pill, which is very ill-advised,” he said. “I do regret the consequences that came out of it.
“I would advise anyone who is in the same position as I am, to seriously consider the consequences of contracting a disease that could possibly be fatal,” he added.
Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, acting director of the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, called on students to think about contraception.
“Research tells us that 18 to 24-year-olds know about the importance of using contraception, but fail to use it consistently and often take risks, particularly when sex is not planned for,” she said.
“It is critical that sexually active adults take responsibility for using condoms and other contraceptive methods correctly and consistently to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections.”
‘I’m enjoying myself’
One first-year KU student, 18, said: “I have unprotected sex when I get drunk. I am on the pill and get checked regularly for STIs, and the chances of catching something really bad like HIV are quite low.
“I haven’t been pregnant, or caught anything, and I’m enjoying myself, so I probably won’t stop yet.”
A student in her third year at Kingston, 20, said: “I had quite a few one-night-stands in my first year. Often, I would be so drunk that I would not even think about contraception. I had to take the morning-after pill once, and it made me really ill.
“I put myself in a situation that I was potentially exposed to STIs,” she continued. “I look back now and see how lucky I have been. I now don’t have unprotected sex, and am on the contraceptive pill. I should have had more respect for myself.”