13 September 2010
The HPA fully supports the FPA's sexual health campaign - The Middle Age Spread - which reminds older adults they are also risk of STIs and should wear condoms with all new or casual partners.
The HPA recently launched its annual STI figures which showed that the two groups most at risk of an STI remains young adults and men who sex with men. However, there was an increase in diagnoses among all age groups. The agency also published findings early this year showing that HIV diagnoses have doubled in the over 50's in the past decade. The HPA supports any campaign or initiatives which will encourage the practice of safe sex.
Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STIs at the Health Protection Agency said:
"The Health Protection Agency collects and publishes annual data on sexually transmitted infections in England and the UK. Although rates of infection are highest in young adults, we have seen an increase in diagnoses in all age groups, including those aged over 45. We are doing more testing and using more sensitive tests, which means we are picking up more infections, however, we think the rise may also by due to more people having unsafe sex. Anybody who has a new sexual partner is at risk of an STI, whatever their age.
"It is important to continually reinforce the safe sex message: If you have a new or casual sexual partner, using a condom is the surest way to avoid a sexually transmitted infection."
In a recent study conducted by scientists at the HPA, it was found that numbers of HIV were also increasing in the over 50s.
Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV surveillance at the Health Protection Agency said:
"Although adults aged 50 and over account for just eight percent of all new HIV diagnoses, the fact that cases have more than doubled in recent years serves as a timely reminder that anybody is at risk of HIV infection if they do not use protection and practice safe sex.
"HIV remains a serious infection particularly when diagnosed late. The fact that we've seen an increase in the number of older adults getting diagnosed, and in particular getting diagnosed late, highlights the need for raised awareness in that age group.
"Medical guidelines issued in 2008 encouraged widespread testing in areas where there is a high prevalence of HIV and the HPA fully supports any NHS or charity organisation initiative which will encourage increased testing and increased offering of testing across the UK."
To read more about the FPA's campaign please go to http://www.fpa.org.uk/Homepage
Last reviewed: 13 September 2010