Brits "out on the pull" urged to carry condoms by government campaign

As part of a major government sexual health campaign, young Brits will be encouraged to carry condoms when they are out "on the pull".

The campaign targets in the main the 18 to 24-year-old group, with adverts on television and radio, in magazines and online.

The TV ads will show couples, with the name of an sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as syphilis and chlamydia clearly displayed on clothing or jewellery, which aims to show that in real life, such infections are not so easy to spot.

The campaign features teenagers wearing pants with slogans such as "I've got gonorrhoea" and "I'll give you one", with reference to STIs.

It appears that as few as 20% of people in this age group carry condoms on a night out.

The £4m campaign warns sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia are rising fast among young people; rates of STIs have risen since the 1990s, with one in nine sexually-active young people having chlamydia.

In July, the Health Protection Agency revealed that diagnoses of sex infections rose by 3% to 790,387 between 2004 and 2005.

The biggest rise was seen in syphilis, which spiralled to more than 20%, but rises were also seen in chlamydia (up 4%), genital warts and herpes.

Health groups support the initiative but point out that another £46m had been pledged to the campaign and sexual health services must be made more accessible.

Public health minister Caroline Flint says the campaign is not about encouraging promiscuity, but will help to drive down the number of cases of STIs.

It aims to make carrying and using a condom among this age group as routine as carrying a mobile phone, lipstick or putting on a seat-belt.

In 2004, the British Government pledged to spend £50 million over three years on media campaigns to combat STIs.

That plan was part of an overall £300 million package to modernise and transform sexual health services.

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