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Free condoms for the over-60s to combat STI epidemic

Free condoms for the over-60s to combat STI epidemic
27th February 2019

Free condoms are to be given out to over-60s by the NHS, after a startling increase in the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being reported by the demographic. The campaign is the first of its kind and particularly targets baby boomers.

While the threat of unwanted pregnancies has passed, there is still the chance of other issues associated with sexual activity. For many of this age group, the idea of taking precautions passes them by, so the Jiggle Wiggle campaign has been launched.

It has started in Derbyshire, with condoms being handed out at GP surgeries, community centres and food banks. The campaign is expected to last for three months, but could be extended to a longer period and more locations if demand exists.

Experts believe that rising divorce rates and the more widespread use of internet dating are behind the increased cases of STIs. It’s a conversation that most people wouldn’t relish having with their elderly relatives, but one that is sometimes required.

An option for those who don’t want to discuss the problem with their parents in person could be to get hold of a copy of Older People in Care Homes: Sex, Sexuality and Intimate Relationships. The 44-page document was handed out to elderly residents in Derbyshire in November.

A spokesman for the trust said: “There has been a rise in the number of STIs and HIV diagnosis in older residents and this group of people are sometimes forgotten in sexual health campaigns and interventions.

“The campaign will target an older demographic, making it clear that safer sex still applies and also promoting that they may benefit from sexual health services– challenging their view that services are ‘not for them’.”

Official figures from Public Health England show that in 2017 there were 216 men over 65 diagnosed with gonorrhea. That is in comparison to 173 in the year before, which represents a not inconsiderable increase of 25 per cent.

A further quarter more women in the same age group were found to have herpes in 2017 than in 2016. Chlamydia is also a problem, having seen a rise of 15 per cent between the two years, showing it doesn’t discriminate between ages.

Rebecca Spencer, general manager of the project, said: “Although most STIs are diagnosed in people aged 15-to-24, STIs are not just prevalent in young people. If you're having sex, look after your sexual health matters. We want to make residents aware that sexual health services are not just for young people - they are for all people.”