Rarely do people think about older generations having intimate relationships. In general, we think of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) as being something younger people get by being promiscuous. But you may be surprised to know older generations suffer from these illnesses too. There are more new cases than ever before, so if you’re sexually active, it’s important to know what can you do to try and protect yourself.
What are the facts and figures about STDs in the over 50s?
Although the younger generation (15 to 24 year olds) still account for most instances, the National AIDS Trust suggests that from 2012 to 2013 there was a 7% year-on-year increase in new cases of STDs in the over 45s – that’s almost 18,000 new cases – and 974 new diagnoses of HIV in over 50s in 2013.
Why are rates of STD infection climbing among the over 50s?
In general, many adults were in secure, stable relationships during the Eighties – their early sexual experiences were in the years before HIV and AIDS was so prevalent. However, with divorce rates on the rise and an increase in new sexual relationships as a result, the chances of transmitting and catching an illness have increased too.
Awareness plays a part too. In 2010 the Family Planning Association discovered no advertising had ever been targeted at raising awareness about STDs to the over 50s, and launched The Middle-Aged Spread campaign as a result.
Should I worry about catching an STD?
Sexual health is not a subject to ignore. Some STDs can be treated relatively easily with antibiotics. And while the symptoms of HIV/AIDs can sometimes be controlled with a combination of medicines that you’d probably need to take for the rest of your life, some strains of Herpes can be treated with anti-viral medications. However, neither disease can be cured at the moment. Herpes is unlikely to be fatal on its own, but it can make your life very unpleasant during an attack.
What should I do if I have concerns?
Practice safe sex. At a later stage of life pregnancy may not be an issue anymore, but you could still catch STDs. Use condoms at least until you and your partner have been tested. And if you do have concerns, please get tested – your local GP will be happy to offer you a discrete exam.