Older men who use online dating at risk of STIs

Older men who use online dating at risk of STIs due to low condom use, new research finds.

New research reveals a worrying trend of older men not using condoms or having up to date knowledge about sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with a leading reproductive and sexual health provider calling for funding for a safe sex campaign targeting older men.

Family Planning NSW, with the online dating service RSVP, conducted the one of the largest Australian studies of older men's sexual habits and awareness of STIs in 2014, and have today released the latest round of data.

"We found that older men were more likely to talk about STIs with a new partner (61% for men over 60 compared to 44% of men 18-29), but they were also more likely to have sex without a condom than the younger men (54%, compared to 31%)," said Dr Deborah Bateson, Medical Director, Family Planning NSW.

"Men over 60 don't know as much about common STIs with 50% believing that chlamydia could have no symptoms compared to 66% of men 18-29."

The survey was conducted with the online dating service, RSVP and had over 2330 respondents. 73% of the men were over 40 and 48% over 50 years of age. 72% of the men that responded were single at the time of the survey.

"It is concerning that the survey found that 80% of men using online dating over 50 didn't always use a condom in the past year, while 66% of men aged 18-29 also reported having sex without a condom. While pregnancy may not be something to consider for men with older partners, STIs are still a real concern, and condoms play a vital role in preventing infection," said Dr Bateson.

"Up to 36% of older men have had a vasectomy. Men of any age who have had a vasectomy were more likely to take risks in relation to using condoms with a new partner. Vasectomies will not protect you against STIs."

"We need to include older men in our safe sex campaigns, as this research shows that many men in this age group, who are starting new relationships, are highly sexually active, often with multiple partners. They may not know how simple modern STI testing can be, or that condom technologies have improved," said Dr Bateson.

"We have been excited to partner with Family Planning NSW to research the attitudes and knowledge of safe sex with people that use RSVP," said Dave Heysen, CEO of RSVP. "Their research gives us key insights into how people are using information about STIs and contraception throughout their lives."

"Campaigns to increase awareness of safe sex, and to encourage condom use, have been successful with online dating apps and websites, and we'd certainly welcome efforts to improve the health of all RSVP users."

"STIs testing is quick, easy and needs to be done by everyone who is meeting new sexual partners. Older men can talk to their GP, or come and see their local family planning clinic to find out the latest information, and get tested today," said Dr Bateson.

The full study is available at the CSIRO Sexual Health Journal.

More information:

El Gibbs Jen Romero
Media and Communications Manager Marketing Executive
Family Planning NSW RSVP
0402 880653 02 9192 3222

Key data:

  • There were 2339 survey respondents, 73% over 40 and 48% over 50. 72% were single at the time of the survey.
  • Older men were more likely to talk about STIs with a new partner (61% for men over 60 compared to 44% of men 18-29), but they were also more likely to have sex without a condom than the younger men (54% compared to 31%)
  • More older men (58%) than young men (42%) think condoms reduce sexual interest.
  • 66% of men 18-29 had had sex in the last year without a condom, but that jumped to 80% in men over 50.
  • Men over 60 had less knowledge about chlamydia with 51% believing that chlamydia could have no symptoms compared to 66% of men 18-29.
  • Over 36% of men over 60 have had a vasectomy, compared to 0.5% of men aged 18-29 and 6% of men aged 30-39.
  • Safe sex campaigns would benefit older men, particularly those who are internet dating multiple partners, and men who have had a vasectomy.
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