Sexually transmitted infections, commonly shortened to STIs, are on the rise among older adults – with middle aged men accounting for a majority of cases.
This is according to a new report from Age UK, which found men aged 45 to 64 are three times most likely to develop STIs compared to women of the same age.
This male demographic accounted for 23,943 cases of STIs in 2018, an 18% rise since 2014. It compares to women of this age who accounted for 8,837 cases of STIs – a 4% increase in the same time period.
The biggest rise, however, was seen in those aged 65 and over. Among men in 2018, there were 2,108 cases of STIs and 472 among women.
The figures have been released to coincide with a new social media campaign by Age UK which aims to highlight STI risk among all age groups – not just young people – highlighting a misconception that “sex is irrelevant once you pass a certain birthday”.
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.”
She adds: "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."
Where you live in the country might also affect your likelihood to be checked for STIs, according to a sexual health study earlier this year.
If they were to contract an infection, 25% of locals wouldn’t be confident recognising the symptoms. The city was closely followed by Glasgow and Belfast.
But it’s Edinburgh, which came in at number four, which has the highest number of people who have never been tested for an STI - with 76% saying they had never been checked.
Bristol, in contrast, was hailed as the best when it came to getting STI checks – with only 41% saying they had never been tested.