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Sexually transmitted infections on the rise in over-50s


AAP reported last week that Australia’s baby boomers could well be having more sex than their children, and that they have the sexually transmitted infections to prove it. Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhoea were growing amongst the over 50s.

Natalie Bowring, a Queensland University of Technology Master’s student said Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed the number of mature adults diagnosed with STIs had doubled between 2004 and 2010, and that was just the people who sought medical attention.

The statistics are similar to those in the UK, where STI rates in the over 50s could surpass those in young people. Natalie Bowring is on a quest to interview twenty sexually active, single men and women about their bedroom behaviour. She said there was little research about the sexual habits of older people.

“We don’t want to think about it,” she said. “We just assume that people stop having sex when they get older, and that’s not the case.”

The researcher said she wanted to know why the over-50s didn’t appear to use condoms.

“We are not to assume that they’re stupid. They’ve probably got children they’ve given safe sex messages to,” she said.

Bowring said it was possibly because when they were young, condoms were used for preventing pregnancy.

It could also be because sex is less about physicality in old age and more about intimacy. “A condom can be a real barrier to that,” Bowring said.

She eventually wants to help introduce a better product than condoms but said she hopes society will first acknowledge it’s OK for older people to “have sex and be happy about it”.

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