Rising STI rates among Canada’s seniors prompts educational campaign

Rising STI rates among Canada's seniors prompts educational campaign

Rising sexually transmitted infection (STI’s) numbers in seniors across B.C. and Canada has prompted a Canadian condom company to launch a safe sex education campaign.

Jems, a body-safe condom company, says STI’s in those aged 60 and up are on the rise, making for some difficult situations in seniors homes across the country.

Jane Johanson, a spokesperson for the education campaign, said people in that age group might not be using protection as much because they aren’t worried about getting pregnant.

“But then I don’t think they realize there are still risks involved,” she added.

She said in the past decade, STI rates for seniors over 65 have risen by 267 per cent for chlamydia, 340 per cent for syphilis and 388 per cent for gonorrhea across Canada.

The BC Centre for Disease Control reported that by the end of December 2022 there were around 1,000 cases of chlamydia, more than 200 accounts of gonorrhea and slightly less than 150 cases of syphilis across the aging population of B.C. residents that were 60 and older.

“They’re probably having more sex than anyone else, which is great, but unfortunately I don’t think they are taking the time to protect themselves,” Johanson said.

“Sexually transmitted [infections] don’t care how old you are.”

To combat the rising numbers and help promote safe sex, Jems launched an education campaign called “F##king Old.”

The company’s web page sells a variety of products aimed at promoting conversations around safe sex, like candy with wrappers that have prompts like, “What gets better with age?” or “Why did Grandpa get an STI test?”

Johanson said the goal of the campaign is to open a line of dialogue between seniors and their children, or grandchildren, to openly talk about safe sex practices and STI prevention.

F##king Old Hard Candy Wrappers. Courtesy Jems.

“Share humour and personal stories. Just introducing ways of talking about it again so it’s light and not making it sound too heavy-handed for them,” Johanson added.

She said families taking the time to discuss these topics would lessen the burden on staff at senior homes that are already dealing with many other levels of care.

CHEK News asked Victoria residents how they felt about the education campaign, with many saying it was a great idea.

“They’re lucky to be still sexually active and I guess it’s a good idea to try some of these out,” Carolyn McCormick said.

Jeffrey Fontaine told CHEK News it was a funny idea.

“It’s a necessary thing, if this issue is prevalent in that community,” Fontaine added. “It’s good for their health, the health of everyone and our health care workers might not have to deal with that as much. I think it’s a good thing to see.”

Currently, the candies are available online and all the proceeds will be donated to Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.


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