Somerset

Somerset swingers' clubs asked to help cut STIs in over-65s

Mature couple holding hands Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Somerset County Council said it wanted to work with the NHS to ensure people can access the treatment they need

Swingers' clubs are being asked to help tackle rising levels of sexually transmitted infections in older people.

A public health report has found a rise in new diagnoses of gonorrhoea and syphilis in Somerset, with the largest increase in those over 65.

The increase was partly blamed on a rise in older people using dating apps.

"We're trying to do more with the swinging communities, but they're very wary or distrusting of us coming in," said health specialist Michelle Hawkes.

Somerset County Council said it wanted to work with the NHS to ensure people can access the treatment they need.

The issue was discussed by the county council's adults and health scrutiny committee on Wednesday, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reported.

'Distrusting of us'

Ms Hawkes said in her written report that while the number of people over 65 with gonorrhoea and chlamydia was "far lower than amongst people under the age of 35", the "largest proportional increase" had been seen in the older age group.

"We want to reduce some of the barriers, since they are the age group most unlikely to go to their GP if they have a concern," she said.

Ms Hawkes added the number involved was "a very small group" but much of the rise had been "driven through dating apps".

"We're trying to do more with the swinging communities, but they're very wary or distrusting of us coming in," she said.

Stephen Chandler, the council's director of adult services, said people "don't naturally think of over-65s" when they think about sexual health.

"We need to challenge that, given the way that lifestyles have changed," he said.

Ms Hawkes' report on sexual health is due to discussed again by the Somerset Health and Well-being Board next month.

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