Number of sex infections in over-45s doubles in 10 years due to rising divorce ratesCases of chlamydia and herpes doubled in 10 yearsOne in five adults receiving HIV treatment is at least 50
Sex infections are soaring among the over-45s because rising divorce rates mean more older people are having unprotected sex.
Cases of chlamydia and herpes have more than doubled in ten years, while syphilis – which was almost eradicated ten years ago – have risen fourfold.
Researchers say one in five adults receiving HIV treatment is at least 50 – twice as many in that age bracket as a decade ago, with a particular surge in the number of pensioners being diagnosed.
Sex infections are soaring among the over-45s because rising divorce rates mean more older people are having unprotected sex
They claim men who take Viagra are especially vulnerable to HIV.
The warnings come from doctors writing in the magazine Student BMJ, who say four out of five people aged 50-90 are sexually active.
Public health officials have grown increasingly concerned about the spread of sex infections among older people. Doctors blame increasing separations among the age group and the subsequent search for new relationships, often through internet dating agencies. But many fail to heed safe-sex messages to use condoms, believing they are aimed only at younger people.
Doctors say they are seeing increasing rates of HIV (pictured) and STI infection in older people
A survey last year found one in ten Britons aged over 50 was happy to have a fling on holiday.
Research has also suggested older ‘swingers’ are pushing up rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), with some of the highest rates among heterosexual couples who swap partners at organised parties and indulge in group sex.
Dr Valerie Delpech, head of the HIV department at the Health Protection Agency, said: ‘We are seeing increasing rates of HIV and STI infection in older people, perhaps in those coming out of long-term relationships and entering into new partnerships. This is a reminder that we can all be at risk of an STI, including HIV, and anyone considering having sex with someone new should have a sexual health screen and use a condom, no matter what age they are.’
Rachel von Stimson, medical student at King’s College London, and Ranjababu Kulasegaram, consultant genito-urinary physician at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, found an increase in cases of all STIs in Britain, the U.S. and Canada among those aged 45 to 64 in the last ten years.
Official figures for England from the HPA show the biggest rise of 337 per cent among over-45s with syphilis, up from 98 cases in 2001 to 428 cases in 2010.
Cases of chlamydia, the UK’s most common STI, rose from 1,184 to 2,812 – a jump of 138 per cent.
Men who have been prescribed impotence drugs such as Viagra (pictured) are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a sex infection in the first year of usage
New cases of genital herpes rose 142 per cent from 1,349 to 3,259, while first episodes of genital warts went up 62 per cent from 2,905 to 4,708. There was a 14 per cent rise in gonorrhoea from 1,090 cases to 1,242.
Older women may be more at risk, say the researchers, because physical changes after the menopause leave them more prone to infection.
Men who have been prescribed impotence drugs such as Viagra are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a sex infection in the first year of usage.
The researchers want GPs to take more responsibility for discussing safe sex with older patients.
Natika Halil, of the FPA – formerly the Family Planning Association, said: ‘Too many people in that age group coming out of long-term relationships don’t think safer sex applies to them.
‘But the truth is STIs will find you just as attractive whatever your age.’