Two-thirds of people who are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have never attended a GUM clinic and said they wouldn't do so unless they were suffering from symptoms.
The findings are revealed today by Lloydspharmacy to launch its new service Online Doctor.
Of those who said they had not attended a clinic, over half said it was because they were too embarrassed. Women in particular said they were paranoid about being seen by family and friends entering or leaving the clinic. Many women said they thought clinics might be unsavoury places and that; in any case, "nice girls don't get STIs".
According to the research 76% of sexually active people under 50 who are not in a long-term relationship said that they do not discuss their sexual history with new or current partners and 89% said they would not tell new or current partners if they had contracted a STI in past.
Chris Frost, Head of Medicines at Lloydspharmacy says that the stigma and embarrassment surrounding STIs means that new ways of reaching people are needed: "Unfortunately nice people do indeed get STIs and the figures for chlamydia show that most who are infected don't know it until it's too late."