Campaign to tackle soaring STD rate among over-50s

The first national campaign to persuade the over 50s to practice safe sex is to be launched next week, after figures showed an alarming rise in sexually transmitted infections among older people.

Health charity FPA, formerly the Family Planning Association, will use fashion adverts from the 1960s and 70s to encourage members of the "baby boomers" generation to use condoms.

The campaign posters bear the phrase: "Remember wearing this?" next to an image of somebody posing in an outfit from the period, adding: "Then remember to wear this" beside an image of a packaged condom.

The drive has been partly prompted by recent figures published by the Health Protection Agency, which showed a rise in people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s having sex with new partners over the last 10 years.

This trend has led to an increase in all of the five main sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in those age groups. 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.

Gonorrhea fell in all age groups between 2000 and 2009 except for the over 45s. Health workers argue that people in this age group commonly make the mistake of thinking that sexual health issues will not affect them.

People living longer and healthier lives coupled with rising divorce rates may be responsible for the rise in STIs among baby boomers, who appear to have missed out on decades of public sexual health messages often targeted at younger, more at-risk groups.

Sexual health services tend to be geared towards teenagers and young people, while advertising campaigns are commonly targeted at the under 25s. Older people can be left unaware that they are taking risks with their sexual health.

The FPA said it was no surprise that over 50s were having sex with new partners, but that they needed to recognise the dangers of unprotected sex.

A spokeswoman said: "The oldest caller to our helpline was an 82-year-old man starting a new relationship. But this also means that STIs in people over 50 are rising fast – and have been for several years.

"Some people are coming out of relationships and dating again. Some have always been single. And many over 50s are enjoying fantastic sex and finding new love at this point in their lives.

"The problem is that lots of people over 50, single or dating, don't think safer sex applies to them. If you've been in a long-term relationship it may not have been something you've had to factor in for years.

"And after the menopause, when pregnancy isn't a concern, using condoms can be easily forgotten about. Result? STIs are making a comeback in a new generation."

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: "Diseases such as chlamydia and hepatitis B do not only affect young people; everyone is at risk and people of all ages need to protect themselves.

"While the public health focus has almost exclusively been targeted at increasing awareness of STIs among younger age groups, these figures send a clear signal that more information needs to be aimed at older people to improve awareness."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

    Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

    £30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence