A study by Age UK indicates a rise in the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among older people. The stigma associated with STIs presents a barrier for many in taking care of their sexual health. Unfortunately, age does not equal immunity when it comes to STIs. Knowing your sexual health status is important no matter how old you are.

Older people

What do the figures say?

As reported by Age UK, there has been a 23% increase in the rate of STIs amongst those aged 65 and over between 2014 and 2018. Between ages 45 and 64, diagnoses in men have risen 18% since 2014, in comparison to 4% for women. The findings suggest that middle-aged men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with an STI than women in the same age range.

New STI diagnoses in men aged 20-24 fell by just over 7% in 2018. On the other hand, rates among 45 to 64-year-old males have risen nearly 14%. This indicates high risk within groups beyond young people, who are often the target of sexual health campaigns.

Why is this important?

The rise in diagnoses could positively suggest that more older people are getting tested. However, there remains a certain stigma around the older generations’ sexual health. According to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), 80 percent of those aged 75 and above believe that a satisfactory sexual relationship is key to maintaining long-term relationships. With an ageing population in the UK, it is important that these individuals are given adequate support to remain sexually active. By tackling the stigma associated with older people and STIs, we can encourage a happier, healthier population overall.

In light of this, Age UK has launched a social media campaign. The aim is to emphasise the need for older people to get tested, too. “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,” said Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK. “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.”

Get tested with Better2Know

At Better2Know, we encourage all sexually active individuals, old and young, to get tested for STIs.

“We strive hard to understand everyone’s circumstances, whether you have recently become sexually active or have had a number of partners over a period of years. Our Sexual Health Advisors will be able to suggest the tests most appropriate to your situation and help you to protect your health and continue enjoying sex for years to come. If you haven’t had a test for a while or feel it’s time to have your first test, contact us by phone or live chat. Let us help you put those doubts to rest.”

Mike Asher, Founder of Better2Know

Unprotected sexual contact or intercourse at any age can spread infection. Since many people with STIs experience no symptoms, regular sexual health testing is important – especially with any new partners. If you are in any doubt, we can help you. Our Sexual Health Advisors are more than happy to help you find the most suitable test for your needs.


[1] The Independent: STIs increasing among older people

[2] Home Care: Stigma around sex and elderly causing rise in STIs for over 65s

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