Ronny Heikki Tikkanen of the University of Gothenburg said the researchers surveyed 15,000 teens and young ages 15-29 across Sweden on behalf of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control. In new or causal sexual encounters, condoms were used only half of the time, Tikkanen says.
"The fact that so many don't use condoms, even though they know that they offer protection against both sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, shows how important it is to work on attitudes and behavior," Tikkanen says in a statement. "We have to get young people to view condoms as an essential part of having sex."
Those who start having sex at a young age were also inclined to take risks with alcohol and drugs. Those who admit exposed themselves to sexual risks and unprotected sex have generally encountered HIV prevention initiatives, but they appear to have little impact on behavior, Tikkanen says.
"Young people want sexual health clinics to be readily accessible, condoms to be distributed at various meeting places and the Internet to be used more widely for advice and support," Jonna Abelsson, assistant researcher at the University of Gothenburg, says.