The number of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among older people is increasing. Across the UK, US and Canada, scientists have found a rise among 50 to 90-year-olds in cases of syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes, according to Age UK (2012):
Latest data from the Student British Medical Journal (2012) reveals that more than 80% of 50-90 year olds are sexually active with cases of many common sexually transmitted infections more than doubling in this age group in the past 10 years. There has been an increase in cases of HIV with those aged 50 and over accounting for 20% of adults accessing HIV care, up from 11% in 2001. This is in part because of prolonged survival; however, new diagnoses in over 50s doubled between 2000 and 2009 to account for 13% of the total diagnosis.
Other STIs are on the rise, a 2010 report by The Independent showed that there has also been an increase in the five main STIs in people aged 50 to 80. The figures showed that 45 to 64-year-olds saw the biggest rise in syphilis, herpes, chlamydia and genital warts between 2000 and 2009. They also saw the second-biggest rise in gonorrhea cases, beaten only by the over 65s. Cases of syphilis in 45 to 64-year-olds rose ten-fold from just 52 in 2000 to 503 in 2009. In the over 65s, cases more than quadrupled from just 7 in 2000 to 32 in 2009.
Key issues and concerns
• Sexually transmitted infections are rising in older age groups but this is often not recognised by health professionals causing a significantly higher proportion of older adults infected with STI and HIV to be diagnosed at a later stage.
• Information on sexual health and health related behaviour in older people is limited.
• Specialist services are often designed and targeted at younger people and this can act to exclude older people.
• There is a low level of awareness of sexually transmitted infections among older people.
• Gay, lesbian and transgender older people can suffer from the double impact of ageism and homophobia, or from prejudices about gender identity.
• A belief that people should not have sex after a certain age has been identified as the most common reasons for patients aged 50-90 from accessing treatment.
What can primary care professionals do to address some of these concerns? Your thoughts?
Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine