One in four British men and women have a misconception that contraceptives such as the Pill can protect them from sexually transmitted infections, a new survey has found.
The survey, carried out by the TVcompany MTV Networks UK to mark World Aids Day, also discovered that one in five played "fast and loose" by having unsafe sex despite knowing that they could contract the virus.
The poll also found that a quarter did not even know that HIV stood for Human immunodeficiency virus.
The survey established that a third of 22-25 year-olds have had unsafe sex more than 20 times. And 86 per cent of 16-18 year-olds did not realise this could result in HIV.
In addition, almost two-thirds of the young never ask a new partner about their sexual history, and for half of those "it never crosses their mind."
Regardless of a major Government drive, 45 per cent of those questioned said they had never seen any public information campaigns on sexual health.
After schools, TV channels such as MTV were the second most common source of information about the risks of unsafe sex.
"The HIV and Aids epidemic is one of the leading causes of death not only in the UK but globally as well, especially among young people," the Daily Mail quoted Bill Roedy, who is chairman of the Staying Alive Foundation, an HIV prevention campaign, and vicechairman of MTV Networks International, as saying.
"There is now clear evidence that prevention efforts work and that education can play a major role in reducing HIV and Aids infection rates," he added.
The poll, which highlighted the worsening sexual health of young Britons, also revealed that three in four young women do not have safe sex in casual relationships, and three-quarters of women between 16 and 30 did not insist on a condom.