When questioned, almost one in five 45-54 year olds (19%) admitted having unprotected sex with someone other than a long-term partner in the past five years.
Nearly one-third of this age group (32%) described their risk of getting an STI when having unprotected sex with a new partner or someone other than their current partner as either unlikely or very unlikely. Even more worryingly, a further 20% believed that their chances of picking up an infection were 'next to nothing' in these circumstances.
When comparing the older and younger generations, double the number of over 55s (25%) believed their chances of acquiring an STI from unprotected sex were 'next to nothing', compared to just 13% of 18-24 year olds .
A quarter of 45-54 year olds surveyed (23%) said they didn't use contraception as they trusted the person they were sleeping with not to have an STI, with one in 10 saying they didn't like the feeling of condoms.
Heidi Wright, Head of Practice at the Society said: "The majority of safe sex messages are targeted at teenagers, but as more adults begin new relationships later in life, they quite clearly need advice too. Over the last decade STIs have risen significantly in the 45-64 age group*.
"You can't always tell who has an STI and infections don't discriminate on the basis of age. If you have unprotected sex with a new partner, you are at risk of STIs which often show few symptoms but have can have serious consequences to health.
"It can be difficult to know where to go for information about sexual health, but your local pharmacy can be an excellent source of advice.
"Conveniently located, pharmacies are open long hours and weekends when GP surgeries are closed. Most now have a private consultation area where patients can discuss their problems confidentially and there is no need for an appointment.
"Pharmacists are expert health professionals who already play an important role in sexual health services. They can advise on the prevention and treatment of STIs, pregnancy testing kits, emergency hormonal contraception, condoms and other contraception as well as being able to tell you about local NHS services too."
Original RPSGB research carried out by YouGov between 16-18 March 2009, interviewing 2258 UK adults aged18-55+.
Source: Health Protection Agency
Pharmacists play an important role in sexual health and can provide the following services:
- Advice on prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
- Chlamydia screening and treatment
- Advice on choosing and using condoms
- Pregnancy testing & fertility kits
- Supply of emergency hormonal contraception (the "morning-after pill")
- Contraception on prescription and general contraceptive advice
- Signposting to local services e.g. GP practices, genitourinary medicine clinics
The Society will be issuing guidance for pharmacists on providing sexual health services in May 2009.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation.
The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy. The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums.
Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
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