Sex & Relationships

Saturday 26 July 2014

Sexually transmitted infections on the rise among older people out dating

The message in Ireland used to be 'avoid pregnancy, not infection'

Joyce Fegan

Published 10/11/2013|00:30

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FANCY-FREE people in their 40s, 50s and 60s back on the dating scene "second time around", and indulging in risky one-night stands, are being treated in increasing numbers for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

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The surprising number of more mature people contracting STIs comes as there is a significant surge in reported cases of gonorrhea, which shot up by 24 per cent last year.

That's the highest rate since detailed statistics have been compiled in the area.

Gonorrhea was noted in texts dating back to biblical times but the recent significant increase is worrying, says Dr Fiona Lyons of St James's Hospital.

Speaking ahead of national Sexual Health Awareness Week (SHAW), she said while 70 per cent of people being treated for STIs are under 30, according to most recent figures, there is an older cohort of newly divorced, separated and confirmed singles getting caught out.

She suggested that people who are no longer concerned about becoming pregnant may not see the need to use condoms. "We do see lots of older people with infections," explained Dr Lyons.

She believes that people are entering relationships later in life after divorce and having casual sexual encounters. The message in Ireland for many years was about "avoiding pregnancy, not infection", stated Dr Lyons.

A frightening fact about gonorrhea is that it's becoming resistant to its antibiotic, she said. The treatment is under threat internationally and "we're really up against it" to find an alternative, she said.

Dr Lyons described chlamydia as "top of the pops", accounting for nearly 50 per cent of infections last year. Women don't experience any symptoms, noted Dr Lyons, but if the infection goes untreated it may cause infertility.

Sunday Independent

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