Campaign launched to tackle sexually transmitted infections among older people

Middle-aged men are nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) than women – but rates are rising for both sexes, figures show.

A new analysis by Age UK found that men aged 45 to 64 accounted for 23,943 cases of STIs in 2018, an 18% rise since 2014.

Meanwhile, women of this age accounted for 8,837 cases, a 4% increase since 2014.

Among those aged 65 and over, the rate of diagnoses rose by 23%, the charity said. Among men in 2018, there were 2,108 cases of STIs and 472 among women.

Age UK is running a social media campaign to highlight the risk of STIs among all age groups, and the need to still use contraception with new partners.

It also wants to see improved access to health services for older people and more support to remain sexually active if they wish.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “Sex continues to be important for many of us well into old age, but for some reason the whole topic remains taboo in some circles.

“This is a shame and it also means that sexually active older people are at greater risk of STIs than they need to be or ought to be.

“Health professionals should be open about discussing sexual health with older people and certainly not immediately jump to the conclusion that sex is irrelevant once you pass a certain birthday.

“Public health messages around sexual health and STI prevention also need to recognise the reality that sex is a part of many people’s later lives and aim to be inclusive of people of all ages.”

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