Memorandum by SSL International plc (HA
SSL INTERNATIONAL PLC
SSL International plc is a multinational healthcare
business, manufacturing well-known brands including the world's
leading condom brandDurex.
Durex has been manufacturing condoms for 75
years and our research shows Durex is the world's most popular
condom with four out of five people in the UK choosing it as their
Durex would welcome the Health Committee's inquiry
into "New developments in HIV/AIDS and sexual health policy."
We see this as being a positive step in tackling
the increase of STIs in the UK and raising awareness of the need
to promote safer sex, especially among at risk groups.
Durex is committed to reducing the incidence
of STIs by encouraging condom usage through new and innovative
products specially formulated for maximum pleasure and enjoyment.
Each year we invest in excess of £12 million per annum in
R&D and have an active programme of contact with universities
and research establishments.
For example, in response to consumer insight
which indicated condoms were difficult to put on and uncomfortable,
we carried out a scientific penis size survey of 3,000 men and
used the research to develop the first anatomically shaped condom.
This means that most Durex condoms are now in an "easy on"
shape, making them easier and quicker to put on and more comfortable
We have also produced the first commercially
available ultra thin condom, Fetherlite, the first benzocaine
condom, Performa and the first commercial polyurethane condom
for men, Avanti.
Durex also actively supports safer sex and AIDS
awareness initiatives throughout the world.
In the UK, we are an established supporter of
government-led public health campaigns, supplying high quality
condoms to ensure that health and population programmes are successful
in reducing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted
infections (STIs) and reducing unplanned pregnancies.
For example, we recently teamed up with APPG
AIDS to raise awareness of the World AIDS Day message by sending
condom cards to 600 MPs. The cards highlight increasing rates
of HIV/AIDS in the UK and contain a Durex Extra Safe condom.
We have also recently produced a new range of
educational leaflets and posters giving the facts about condoms
which our brand managers will be distributing to healthcare professionals.
Our work in the international arena includes
the annual Durex Global Sex Surveywhich this year had 350,000
respondentstwice as many as 2003.
The survey asks questions including what measures
people take to protect themselves against STIs and HIV and at
what age they lost their virginity.
The research findings help to ensure we are
fully aware of changing sexual attitudes, behaviour and lifestyles.
Durex also involves itself in major social marketing
projects such as Program H in Brazil. This was established with
the aim of educating groups of young menmany of them prone
to promiscuous sexual behaviour and violence towards womento
change their attitude and build awareness of their own health
needs, particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS.
2003 ENQUIRY INTO
Response to Section 5
5.1 Durex agrees the monitoring service
of the HPA is excellent and the data provided is invaluable.
5.2 Durex's own research into the sexual
behaviour and attitudes of people in the UK complements the findings
of the HPA. The Global Sex Survey has been running since 1994
and researches sexual attitudes and behaviours of people around
the world. In 2004 more than 350,000 people from 41 countries
took part. The portfolio of Global Sex Surveys demonstrates how
sexual attitudes and behaviours have changed across the world,
over the last 10 years. The 2004 survey revealed people in the
UK lose their virginity at an average age of 16.7 years old. Previous
Durex Global Sex Survey data reveal a trend to losing your virginity
earlier, the average age in 2001 was 16.9 and in 2000 it was 17.1.
It also reveals that 48% of people in the UK have had unprotected
sex, Durex data shows this is a 14% increase on 2003 demonstrating
a need for further education and 46% of respondents in the UK
believe sex education should be taught by parents/guardians. The
full results of the 2004 Global Sex survey can be seen as an appendix
to this document.
Response to Section 16
16.1 The Durex-run Innovation in Sexual
Health Award invites healthcare professionals across the UK to
submit details of their sexual health projects. Entries need to
demonstrate their project is successful in targeting at risk groups,
flexible, innovative and effective. The award scheme is run through
Sexual Health News, Durex's quarterly publication for sexual health
The winner of the 2004 competition was the MESMEN
project based in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The campaign targeted
men, encouraging them to have "sexual health MOTs" and
used posters, postcards and the Haynes Sex Manual to promote the
check-ups. Each year the winner receives £1,000 to further
If the Government was to endorse this award,
examples of excellent practice could be further highlighted to
a wider audience. This form of support would motivate healthcare
professionals in educating young people about the benefits of
good sexual health. Alternatively, the Government could initiate
and fund a scheme that would replicate the winning projects across
the country, as a result there would be a decrease in rates of
16.2 National Condom Week is an annual initiative
run by Durex to promote safer sex to all sexually active people,
and 16-24 year olds in particular. The initiative has been successfully
run in schools for the past eight years, and in 2005, Durex is
looking to run a number of high profile activities to send the
safer sex message to an even wider audience. As part of National
Condom Week, Durex also works closely with healthcare professionals,
educators, retailers and pharmacists to communicate the importance
of good sexual heath and is supported by the media, celebrities
and leading politicians. Active support of National Condom Week
by the Governmenteither financially, or through endorsement,
would allow us to reach an even greater audience.
16.3 Durex is working closely with Nursing
Times in 2005, to add a specific award for excellence in sexual
health to the portfolio of Nursing Times Awards. This is the first
year a sexual health award will be given, demonstrating further
support and commitment to those working at grassroots level. We
believe that this award will act as a positive support mechanism
allowing nurses in the field of sexual health to achieve their
objectives more effectively.
Response to Section 35
35.1 Durex agrees the promotion of sexual
health is an important method of helping to raise awareness of
STIs and is effective in tackling sexual health problems.
35.2 See 16.2.
35.3 See 16.1.
35.4 Durex produces a quarterly newsletter,
"Sexual Health News", for sexual health professionals.
It is distributed to a database of more than 3,500 healthcare
professionals, key opinion formers and MPs throughout the UK to
update them on Durex initiatives and news in the arena of sexual
35.5 In January 2004 Durex launched durexchange.co.uk,
a website designed for sexual health professionals. It provides
a facility for people to post details about their work and exchange
ideas and information with other people in the field of sexual
health. It also offers a best practice framework for professionals
to learn from. The site was designed as part of Durex's ongoing
investment in supporting sexual health professionals to help promote
good practice across the UK to the sexual healthcare industry.
With Government endorsement and funding, this
site could be further developed to offer an extensive service
to healthcare professionals and anyone working in the field of
sexual health across the country to aid in their work. Durex believes
the Government needs to invest heavily in support healthcare professionals
at grass roots level and durexchange.co.uk offers a good opportunity
35.6 Durex carries out sampling activity
at selected events. In the past Durex has provided products to
be distributed at Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals, charity
fundraising events, and the MOBO awards. To date, in 2004, Durex
has given almost 250,000 condoms, including 80,000 at Glastonbury
and 40,000 at the Oxegen Festival in Dublin.
35.7 Throughout summer 2004, Durex worked
with the Department of Health's "Sex Lottery" campaign
to distribute 35,000 condoms in 10 popular holiday resorts, to
promotes safer sex to young people. The condoms were distributed
to 18-24 year olds through youth holiday company Escapades. A
total of 30,000 door hangers were produced which said "Do
not enterDon't play the sex lottery" along with 50,000
Sex Lottery scratch cards.
Response to Section 37
37.1 Durex agrees that sex education programmes
are an essential way of helping to improve sexual health.
37.2 See 16.2.
37.3 Durex has produced an interactive sex
education CD ROM as a resource for schools to support SRE programmes.
It is distributed to teachers and healthcare professionals to
educate young people about safer sex and includes information
on sex education, contraception, STIs, HIV/AIDS and pregnancy
and parenting. There is also a special sex and relationships quiz
to assess the pupils' understanding of modules and identify any
areas that need to be re-addressed.
Response to Section 39
39.1 See 37.3.
Durex is delighted the Health Committee has
decided to undertake this inquiry into recent policy development
surrounding HIV/AIDS and sexual health services, specifically
with regard to progress to date in implementing the recommendations
of the committee's 2003 inquiry into sexual health.
Durex believes there are numerous examples of
great practice happening across the UK at grassroots level. These
schemes could be utilised to help the Government meet its targets
of reducing rates of STIs from 2006. The Government could invest
in these schemes, enabling them to be promoted nationwide.
Durex is committed to helping to promote good
sexual heath practice though its broad range of initiatives detailed
As a result we would happy to share our experience
with all relevant parties to work to improve the sexual health
of the nation.