Too suddenly last summer
Tom Spears
Ottawa Citizen

August 20, 2004

The Spanish beach area nicknamed the Costa del Sex continues to infect British tourists in alarming -- and growing -- numbers, a pair of new reports from UK medical experts shows.

Letís start with Dr. Karen Rogstad, a specialist in sexually transmitted diseases in Sheffield. She gets a steady supply of new clients who show up in her office three months after sun-drenched and libidinous holidays in southern Europe.

And no wonder. A quarter of them had slept with a new partner on that holiday, and two-thirds had not used condoms or had used them haphazardly.

The British Medical Journal has just published her tally of the "alarming increase," along with a parallel study of vacationers in Tenerife (in the Canary Islands.)

Exactly half of those aged 25 or younger had sex with someone new while on holiday in Tenerife, as did 22 per cent of those over age 25. Meanwhile women were most likely to have new sexual encounters in the Caribbean.

The Brit tabloids were rejoicing just last winter in the sordid behaviour of a UK tour operator that offered party-game contests on a Greek beach with quickie sex as a prize.

Bad idea, says the medical journal -- but the big problem seems to be the attitude of the vacationers themselves. They just don't particularly care.

An added danger: syphilis is making a comeback, chiefly in tropical countries and former Soviet nations. Then there are the men who travel to Thailand and the Philippines for sex holidays.

Among heterosexual British men who got syphilis between 2000 and 2002, the journal says nearly 70 per cent caught it while travelling abroad.

Then they brought it home. Canít come back without gifts for your loved ones, right?

The British Medical Journal's solution: Screen 'em all when they return.

© Ottawa Citizen 2004