Millennials Aren’t Using Condoms

STI rates are soaring among people 25 and under. Despite the fact that they make up only a quarter of people having sex in the U.S., half of all STIs are in people in that age group, according to condom brand Durex.

Source: CDC via Durex

There are lots of reasons for this, as explained by Durex and the NYC Dept. of Health at an event in New York this week. People are now less afraid of sex, and as a result are becoming more apathetic. The key isn’t to go back to the time of fear, however—it’s to stop pointing to one monster, or one solution, and to be aware of all that it takes to lead a healthy, happy sex life.

Hosted by Durex, a brand of U.K. consumer products giant Reckitt Benckiser, the theme of the night was “confidence,” so young people living in this text-crazy world can feel comfortable speaking up and saying they want to use a condom. Reckitt is the second largest sellers of condoms in the world after Church & Dwight, maker of Trojan condoms, according to research firm Technavio.

Despite a lot of talk at the event about how to get men to buy condoms and how to get women to ask men to buy them, Durex Marketing Director Nadja Körner said one area that Durex is looking at is how to convince more women to take the initiative to buy condoms. They aren’t alone: Trojan has been marketing a new “luxury” condom, XOXO, that is clearly aimed at women. Sex toy maker LELO also sells a luxury condom called “Hex.”

As part of Durex’s broader effort to change the decreasing trend of condom use, the company has also been asking the Unicode Consortium for a “safe sex” emoji in the form of a condom. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Unicode has rejected its proposal, Körner said. She added that they haven’t given up, but said she couldn’t give details on their next move.

Kudos to Demetre Daskalakis, Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who also spoke at the event, for pointing out that scaring people into using protection isn’t the most sustainable way to keep STI rates low.

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