‘We must encourage older people to be tested for STDs’

The rate of new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in that age group in Gloucestershire is 10.8 per 100,000 population, this is below the rate for England which is 15.6 per 100,000 population, according to the latest data.

But a recent report by the Local Government Association found that the number of common STIs caught among over 65s has increased by 20 per cent, with the largest proportional increase in gonorrhoea and chlamydia seen in that age group across both countries.

Gloucestershire county councillor Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton and Northleach) asked council chiefs on January 25 whether more is being done to encourage older people to get tested.

He said: “Given the fact that younger people are generally more open and inclined to access sexual health services and are more used to doing so. And the over 50s are probably less used to doing so. What specific interventions or activities are planned to reach out more to that age group?”

GCC leader Mark Hawthorne told the cabinet meeting at Shire Hall that it was a good challenge.

He said: “Generally from the data we are seeing, this is something the service will need to look at and reflect,” he said.

Cabinet agreed to continue with specialist sexual health service delivery arrangements for the next ten years.

Council officers said the service generally performs well, with similar sexual and reproductive health outcomes across several indicators to neighbouring areas and against national figures.

The specialist sexual health service has implemented a number of service improvements over the last few years, which include clinics for HIV prevention and a rapid response to the ongoing mpox outbreak, including the rollout of the vaccination programme for those at risk.

The overall rate of new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed among residents of Gloucestershire in 2021 was 332 per 100,000 residents, lower than the rate of 551 per 100,000 in England, and similar to the average of 339 per 100,000 among its nearest statistical neighbours.

The rate per 100,000 for gonorrhoea diagnoses (a marker of high levels of risky sexual activity) in Gloucestershire was 30, better than the rate of 90 in England.

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