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Increase in sexually transmitted infections among over-45s

1 July 2008

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Clinics are dealing with a doubling in the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among patients aged over 45 in less than a decade, a new study shows.

The number of infections has rocketed 127%, with genital warts the most commonly diagnosed infection followed by herpes. Men aged over 45 accounted for 67% of all cases.

Researchers examined data from 4,445 diagnoses made in mainly heterosexual people aged 45 and over at 19 genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in the West Midlands between 1996 and 2003.

The results showed that men and people aged 55 to 59  were significantly more likely to be affected by an STI than others across the group.

“There has been a significant increase in the overall rate of STIs in older adults over the last few years, but little published research to inform public health policy, which remains youth focused,” the authors wrote in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

“The results of this study, together with evidence from a number of other studies, would indicate that sexual risk-taking behaviour is not confined to young people but also occurs among older people.”

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Sexually Transmitted Infections