[Who pays for sex? An analysis of the increasing prevalence of female commercial sex contacts among men in Britain Sex Transm Infect 2005; 81: 467-71]

Newswise — The rate of paid-for sex with women has doubled in a decade, reveals research in Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The findings are based on the results of two national surveys of 11,000 British adults in 1990 and 2000 (Natsal). Respondents were asked about their sexual lifestyles and attitudes to sex. And men were asked if they had ever paid for sex.

In 1990, 5.6% of the men said they had paid for sex at some time during their lives, with 2% saying they had done this within the previous five years, and 0.5% within the past year.

Ten years later, the comparable figures were twice as high.

In 2000, almost 9% of men said that they had ever paid for sex, while 4.2% said they had done so within the previous five years, and 1.3% said they had done so over the past year.

The 2000 survey results showed that men who said they had paid for sex within the previous five years were more likely to be aged between 25 and 34 and single. They were also more likely to live in London, and to have had more sexual partners.

Over a third of them had had 10 or more sexual partners during the previous five years. And over half had had new sexual partners while abroad, including in countries with higher rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections than the UK.

But fewer than one in five had gone to a sexual health clinic during that time. And only one in seven had been tested for HIV, although almost one in 10 said they had had a sexually transmitted infection.

The authors suggest a rising divorce rate, sex tourism, and the increasing availability of commercial sex services may help to explain the trend.

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