The rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among older Australians are rising because their knowledge on condom use is lacking, according to a new study.
A study of more than 2000 Australians over the age of 60 found 3-in-4 had had sex in the last 5 years.
Almost 90 per cent had good general knowledge about STIs but when researchers at La Trobe University quizzed them about their knowledge on safe sexual practices they were less clear about the protection condoms offered against STIs. Women had better knowledge than men.
Just 64 per cent were aware that condoms do not provide 100 per cent protection for all STIs because they could break or might not fully cover the affected area.
Rates of STIs are rising among older adults in many high-income countries, including Australia, say the authors of the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
While overall rates for specific STIs for older adults are much lower than those for younger groups, the number of notifiable STIs other than HIV among those aged 60 years and older increased by 46 per cent between 2009 and 2013.
The authors of the study say the findings point to a need for education campaigns and interventions targeted at this particular demographic.
“Older Australians commenced their sexual lives prior to widespread condom use, the discovery of HIV/AIDS, and the implementation of school-based sexual health education,” the authors wrote.