The Health Protection Agency statistics make depressing reading. The percentage change from 1995-2004 shows large increases in syphillis (1449%), gonorrhea (111%), chlamydia (223%), herpes (15%) and genital warts (32%). The 2003 report to the select committee on Health summarised it well by saying that "the last decade has witnessed a dramatic rise in diagnoses of all major [sexually transmitted] diseases." The Office of National Statistics did a report showing data on the use of condoms in the previous four weeks. It found that 46% of males and 37% of females with one or more new partners used condoms on every occasion that they had sex.
If you have been given the impression that if you wear a condom, you are safe from STIs, you need to consider those figures.
By the way, you also need to know that on its sexual health myths and facts page, BUPA lists as "Myth 3" the statement "Condoms protect against all STIs". I quote:
[...] according to the Family Planning Association, there is little evidence to suggest that condoms protect against the transmission of genital warts. It is also uncertain whether or not condoms can protect against genital herpes.This is not some Catholic thing, it is publically available information. But when were you ever told? By the way, it is recognised that genital herpes, for example, is not curable. If you have it, you have it for life. So will your sexual partner(s).
Now, have another look at those figures from the Health Protection Agency. Which diseases were condoms supposed to protect against? These infections and others not listed put you at risk, variously, of infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer - oh, and of course, premature death. Marie Stopes has a sex-ed website for children called "likeitis" which calls these infections "Love Bugs". Gee doesn't that make you feel so much better!
In England this dramatic rise in STIs, (also in teenage pregnancies and abortions) has taken place against the backdrop of the "more and better sex education" mantra. The message seems to be "it has dismally failed so far so let's keep on trying the same thing".
Here's a new idea. Keep yourself chaste (and therefore also clean from STIs) until marriage. Marry someone who has done the same.
Here's another idea. If someone is willing to put their neck on the block and cares enough about you as a young person to tell you the truth rather than simply what you might want to hear, they are probably worth listening to.