You’re never too old to get an STI! Experts call for over-50s to be taught ‘safe sex’ after rates of gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis in retirement villages soar

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Over-50s should be taught safe sex to combat soaring STIs with rates doubling in the last decade, research suggests.

Rising divorce rates, the emergence of Viagra, dating apps and the growth of retirement villages have combined to mean ‘sexual risk taking is now common among older adults’.

Rates of disease including gonorrhoea and syphilis have surged by almost a fifth in just four years among UK ‘baby boomers’.

Researchers found that, in England, 31,902 new STIs were recorded in the over 45s in 2015, which rose to 37,692 in 2019 – an increase of 18 per cent

Experts said this is likely an underestimate with embarrassment and lack of access to sexual health services meaning many will not seek help.

Sex must become ‘normalised’ and part of routine healthcare for older generations, they say, rather than simply focusing on the young.

Professor Justyna Kowalska, of the Medical University of Warsaw, said: ‘People do not become asexual with age.

‘In fact, with preventive medicine and improved lifestyles people are enjoying a healthy life and sex life for longer.

‘Older people often find greater satisfaction in their sex lives due to experience and known expectations.

‘We need more role models like Samantha Jones in the TV show Sex and the City to challenge stereotypes around older sexuality.’

In England, 37,692 new STIs were recorded in the over 45s in 2019 compared to 31,902 in 2015 – an increase of 18 per cent.

The study calls for better sex education in Baby Boomers as rates of diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis in older people are skyrocketing

The study calls for better sex education in Baby Boomers as rates of diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis in older people are skyrocketing

Meanwhile, half of men and almost a third of women aged 70 and over reported being sexually active, in a survey of sexual health in older adults in England.

Similarly, in a Swedish study, 46 per cent of individuals aged 60 years and older reported being sexually active, one in 10 aged 90 and above.

But for many, a lack of sex education at school, combined with the no risk of unwanted pregnancies, can heighten risky behaviour.

Presenting her findings at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona, Professor Kowalska suggested sex education programmes should be tailored to the over 50s, ensuring any facilities are located within existing community settings.

She added: ‘Sexual health campaigns are focused on young people and overlook the needs and experiences of those aged 50 and older.

‘Health promotion messages give the impression that condoms and concerns about STIs only apply to young people.

‘But the dangers of undiagnosed and untreated STIs such as HPV-related cancers and onwards transmission are very real, particularly in this age group who are more likely to have underlying conditions such as heart disease and stroke.’

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