More men pay for sex in the UK

Researchers at Imperial College London, say that the number of British men paying for sex has doubled during the last decade and the men were more likely to have had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

It is thought that the increase may be due to the rise in divorce rates and in the number of men who have never married.

It seems that men who pay for sex are likely to have had more sexual partners, many of them overseas and often in countries with higher rates of HIV and other STIs.

The study has based its findings on surveys of 11,000 British adults carried out in 1990 and 2000.

In 1990, 5.6 percent of men apparently said they had paid for sex at some stage during their lifetime, with 2 percent saying they had done so in the previous five years and 0.5 percent in the last year.

Ten years down the line, the figures have doubled with 9 percent of men admitting they have had "commercial sex", with 4.2 percent paying for sex in the last five years and 1.3 percent saying they had done so in the last year.

According to the research based on the 2000 results, men aged 25-34, living in London and who had never married or were divorced, were the most likely to have paid for sex, and over a third of them had 10 or more sexual partners during the previous five years.

Over a half had had new sexual partners while abroad.

The researchers believe the increased divorce rate and higher proportion of men who were never married may explain some of the increased 'demand' for commercial sex.

Many reports suggest an increasingly large and diverse sex industry exists in Britain with more opportunities for the sale and purchase of sex via clubs, escort agencies, the Internet, and sex tourism.

A significant rise in STIs, has been witnessed with chlamydia up 103 percent and gonorrhea up 97 percent between 1997 and 2002, along with a rise in new HIV infections.

The study shows that almost one in 10 men who paid for sex had had an STI, it is unclear if this higher incidence is through commercial sex or because they have had more partners.

The report calls for education and media campaigns to target such men because despite their increased risk, fewer than one in five had visited a sexual health clinic and only one in seven had been tested for HIV.

The report says that more research is needed and particular attention should be given to single and divorced men and tourists.

The study is published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

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