Sexually transmitted infections, sex and the Irish
The national reported rates of sexually transmitted infections (other than HIV/AIDS) in Ireland have been increasing over the last decade of the 20th century. Medical professionals and epidemiologists consider the rates of STIs as indicators of the proportion of the population engaging in 'high risk' behaviour. According to this hypothesis, an increase in reported rates reflects an increase in 'high risk' behaviours. This thesis will examine this relationship and determine the reasons for the increased reported rates in Ireland. This will involve an investigation into Irish sexual behaviours and attitudes, thus giving an insight into Irish sexuality, which has previously attracted little sociological interest. Evidence in regard to Irish sexuality and sexually transmitted infections is limited. In the absence of longitudinal data on sexual behaviours and a national survey on STIs and risk-taking sexual behaviours, the question of the rising rates has to be addressed by collating available data from different sources. This involves: (1) the use of epidemiological and GUM clinics' information, (2) a socio-historical account of Irish sexuality and sexually transmitted infections and (3) a comparative analysis of Irish sexual behaviours and attitudes with four other countries utilising the International Social Survey Programme's 1994 dataset, Family and Changing Gender Roles II. It is concluded that the increasing reporting rates of STIs are not being directly caused by accompanying increases of 'high risk' sexual behaviours in the general population but are produced by a number of factors including a growing public openness about sexuality and sexual health awareness.