Intended for healthcare professionals


Making a mess of sex

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 29 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1496
  1. Richard Harling
  1. BMJ

    The British press loves nothing better than a story about sex. So it proved again when the national newspapers devoted nearly 350 column inches to adolescents' sexual health after a recent paper by consultant epidemiologist Angus Nicoll and colleagues (BMJ 15 May).

    The sexual health of teenagers, they claimed, deteriorated in England

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    and Wales between 1995 and 1996: there were more pregnancies and higher rates of sexually transmitted disease. In an accompanying editorial Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, placed the findings in a wider context, revealing that teenagers in England and Wales have poorer sexual health and are also more likely to drink alcohol and use illegal drugs than other western European teenagers.

    Some newspapers, responsibly, limited themselves to factual accounts, using statistics from the original articles and adding results from other surveys in an effort to paint a picture of current teenage lifestyles. But several major newspapers wasted no time in …

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