Love is all around us, especially today on Valentines Day. It’s also Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness week. Positive Living North is spreading awareness about the importance of protecting yourself against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), something that seniors are also being reminded of.
Orlando Mcleish is an HIV Educator and the Positive Prevention Coordinator at Positive Living North. He says the most common age group for new STIs is 15 to 25, but seniors are not exempt. “There are definitely outbreaks in seniors because for a lot of seniors, condoms weren’t a thing back in their days; back in the 50s or 60s, it wasn’t a thing and there wasn’t a lot of talk about STIs.”
“Condoms were totally equated with birth control, and once you are past the age of bearing children, birth control should not be necessary,” says the Manager of the Seniors Resource Centre and the Executive Director of the Prince George Council of Seniors, Lola-Dawn Fennell. “That’s a common misconception that needs to be addressed.”
Mcleishai says the most common STIs are Chlamydia, followed by Gonorrhea, Syphilis and then HPV. Knowing the symptoms and getting tested are crucial. “We do encourage for seniors citizens, because we know that they are sexually active, for them to get tested and talk about the use of condoms; correct and consistent and proper use of condoms.”
Both Positive Living North and the Seniors Resource Centre offer free condoms and lube, as well as pamphlets and information on STIs.
Knowledge is power, and Positive Living North stresses the importance of safe sex for all age groups.