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8 December 2020

Let’s talk about sex!

Kent campaign calls for over-45s to help them reach the ‘forgotten generation’ - as research shows middle-aged adults at greatest risk of STIs and new HIV infections.

Over 45s in Kent are being invited to join an online panel to discuss their sexual health concerns and help transform services across the county.

With new research finding that over-45s are at risk of becoming the ‘forgotten generation’ in sexual health, an online event hopes it can reach the group which is at increasing risk of catching sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Hosted by a panel of sexual health experts, METRO will be presenting their findings and asking listeners over the age of 45 to give their feedback and ask questions on Friday, 11 December from 3.30 to 5pm.

While sexual health campaigns usually focus on 16-to-35 year olds, new research shows STIs and new HIV infections are rising in the over-45s because they are often unaware of the dangers of unprotected sex.

Dr Mun-Yee Tung, sexual health Consultant Physician at Kent Community Health Foundation Trust, said:  “We need help from people to change the future of sexual health for the over 45s in this country. Sex definitely doesn’t stop when you are 40, but many people in this age group are reluctant to get help to protect their health, or are unaware how to, and that needs to change. It’s just as important to think about your sexual health and consider any concerns if you are in your 40s and over, as it is if you are younger.”

“Rates of new HIV infections are highest among people aged between 35 and 55, and the most at risk are over 45s entering new relationships after a period of monogamy, sometimes after the  menopause when pregnancy is no longer a consideration; and little thought is given to STIs.

“It’s important to look at what more we can do to ensure everyone has access to good sexual health advice, information, and services. We cannot allow the over-45s to remain a forgotten generation and we need their help to change our services so that’s no longer the case. Everyone should be able to access safe support and we want to make sure that they know how and where to get the help they need.”

As part of a new project known as SHIFT (Sexual Health in the over ForTy-fives) researchers have found:

  • There is still a huge stigma around accessing sexual health services, and this effect becomes more profound in older age groups.
  • Sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction tend to decrease with age, yet, so does the likelihood of accessing clinical support.
  • Over 45s remain as much at risk of non-consensual sex as young people, yet many resources around consent and healthy relationships fail to reach this age group.
  • Very few over 45s in the UK recall receiving good relationships and sex education, if any at all.
  • Adults already classed as vulnerable or at risk due to their social or economic circumstances are most at risk.
  • Rates of new HIV infections are still highest amongst those aged 35-55, particularly MSM and black Africans.