The Coronavirus pandemic has changed our attitudes towards protection
A new survey from Durex reveals that we have an opportunity to disrupt the recent increase of STI cases in the UK(1)because of two key themes:
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted peoples’ intention to use sexual protection.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted peoples’ desire to protect themselves and others.
London, 1st July 2020: In a world where we are more conscious than ever about hygiene, a new survey from Durex, a global leader in sexual wellbeing, has revealed that the recent Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged us to think differently about how we intend on protecting ourselves and others.
It has been reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that globally there are more than 1 million new cases of STIs acquired every day(2). In recent years we have also seen a trend in the number of STI cases in the UK increase(1,3) which potentially costs health services like the NHS millions(4) and puts people’s long-term health at risk, even though the majority are preventable.
Whilst in lockdown and by adhering to strict restrictions, it is believed this trend has been disrupted.(5) However, after this prolonged period of sexual abstinence for many, with lockdown rules continuing to relax, there is a possibility that the trend could return to its original trajectory.
The survey, which was completed by 18-35-year-old UK singles in May 2020, set out to understand how Covid-19 has affected behaviour and habits when it comes to protection.
59% of those surveyed said that lockdown has significantly shifted their mindset when it comes to the idea of protecting themselves or others. 48% of people also agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic has made them much more conscious of other viruses (including STIs). Both findings indicate a change in attitude towards sexual and general wellbeing, hopefully bringing the promise of a change to hurtful day-to-day sexual habits and sexual norms that some have come to accept, such as unprotected sex.
In fact, an additional 18% said they are more likely than before lockdown to insist on using a condom when having sex, bringing the total to 88%. Respondents were also asked what new habits they would keep or do more of post-lockdown which would go towards ensuring their sexual wellbeing:
87% said they would keep taking or do more to take better care of theirs and others sexual health
82% said they would keep thinking twice or start to think twice about having a one-night stand
85% said they would not judge people for wanting to use a condom
This unprecedented and pivotal moment in history has helped to develop Durex’s new ‘Let’s Not Go Back to Normal’ campaign. Challenging sexual conventions and norms is central to Durex’s mission to liberate good sex for everyone.
The campaign encourages people to go further and truly rethink their desire to ‘go back to their sexual norms’ – because normal wasn’t good enough. ‘Normal’ used to mean it was ok that half of us have never been tested for an STI(6), that millions is spent every year on treating preventable STIs(4) and that two thirds of people are not fully satisfied with their sex life.(7)
Ben Wilson, Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Category Director said,“Everyone is talking about going back to normal. But nobody is questioning whether we should. The truth is, ‘normal’ is rooted in a lot of outdated conventions when it comes to sex and we know we can do better. We’re taking it upon ourselves to challenge that normal, because nobody should want to go back to a world that wasn’t working for everyone.”
He continues,“We see emergence from lockdown as a potentially vital turning point in the world’s fight against sexually transmitted infections. Young people face unrealistic portrayals of sex everyday – from online porn, to TV series, dating apps to social media. The role of condoms and protection needs to be more prevalent to portray real, safer, better and positive sex. By launching the ‘Let’s Not Go Back To Normal’ campaign we hope to inspire and encourage people to reflect on their time in lockdown and think about the positive behaviours they will take forward, but the established attitudes to protecting ourselves and others will remain. Whether it’s us as a brand making the condom experience better for users; individuals feeling confident enough to discuss more protection with their partners and stopping to make bad excuses for not using one; or young people having education on, and access to condoms, we all have a role to play in keeping STIs in lockdown.”
It’s clear that the UK has never been so ready for change on so many levels. It’s time to come together and collectively be more pro-condom, to ditch those bad habits, embrace the positive protective behaviours (for ourselves and others) that we learned from a Covid-19 world, and create a new normal that liberates good, safer sex for all.
Let’s not go back to normal.
3 Health and Social Care Inquiry on delivering core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond: Joint submission by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the British HIV Association (BHIVA)