Senior’s STI rates rocket

THE number of sexually transmitted infections in 50-70 year olds in WA has taken a dramatic leap.

The WA health department was notified of 297 infections in 2012, but four years later that jumped by 75 per cent to 519 — although a department spokesperson stressed that accounted for just 3 per cent of all notifications.

”The percentage increase must be viewed in light of the small numbers,” they said.

“WA Department of Health STI prevention and control program focuses on priority populations that have the highest rate of notifications or are at high-risk of STIs,” said the spokesperson.

“This includes young people, men who have sex with men, sex workers and the Aboriginal population.”

The rise in STIs in WA seniors mimics other countries around the world; the number of cases in UK seniors rose by over a third in the last decade, with England’s chief medical officer reporting more seniors contracting conditions like genital warts and chlamydia.

Health experts say rising divorce rates, new partners later in life, and foregoing condoms because there’s less chance of an unwanted pregnancy, have contributed to the increasing incidence of STIs in people over 50.

Rebecca Smith, Sexual Health Quarters education services director, said there’d not been a dramatic increase in seniors attending the organisation’s STI drop-in clinic in Northbridge, but she thought seniors who started dating again might be embarrassed about discussing safe sex.

New relationships

“There are often instances where older people start new relationships, sometimes after being with one partner for many years, and don’t know how to bring up the topic of safe sex with their new partner/s, or don’t think they need to,” she says.

The UK study found the most commonly diagnosed STIs in 2014 among those aged 50 to 70 were warts, chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhoea.

It also found HIV cases have also risen among 50 to 70-year-olds and now account for 16 per cent of all new STI cases.

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