Sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases and risk behaviour among older adults
Few data are currently available regarding the extent to which older people (defined here as those aged >50 years): i) are sexually active; ii) engage in `risky' sexual behaviours; and iii) contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It was the primary aim of research described in this thesis to address these specific knowledge deficits and to ascertain whether the exclusion of this age group as a research focus within this subject field can be reasonably justified. The dearth of previous research undertaken in this area necessitated that a secondary goal be addressed, namely the development of methodologies appropriate to the collection from older people of data concerning such issues. Using a combination of self-administered questionnaire studies and secondary data analyses, undertaken both in health care settings and within the community at large, the programme of research clearly indicates that: 1. Older people represent a consistent minority of patients attending specialised genitourinary (GUM) clinics. Members of this group are further regularly diagnosed with STDs. Moreover, older clinic attenders exhibit distinctive socio-demographic and clinical characteristics relative both to younger clinic attenders and to the general population of the same age group. 2. The majority of older GUM clinic attenders are first time attenders and have not been diagnosed with an STD before 3. In the community at large the majority of older adults are sexually active, of whom a small minority (approximately 7%) engage in behaviours that place them at risk of contracting STDs. 4. Most older people, recruited from both health care and non-health care settings, feel that they have received very little information about STDs and HIV, and many indicated that they would like to receive more information on these topics.