There has been a recent global increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV among adults aged over 45. Limited evidence exists regarding middle-aged adults’ knowledge of STIs other than HIV. This qualitative study sought to understand middle-aged adults’ knowledge of STIs within a socio-cultural context. Individual interviews, based on a life-course approach, were conducted with 31 recently sexually active heterosexual men and women. Participants were aged between 45 and 65 and of mixed relationship status (14 were single, 17 in a relationship). Thematic analysis identified four key findings, including: “engagement with STI-related knowledge”; “general knowledge of STIs”; “learning about STIs from children”; and “limited application of knowledge”. The findings allow insight into a neglected area, and indicate that socio-cultural factors influence middle-aged adults’ STI-related knowledge acquisition throughout the life course. These are important implications for the prevention of STIs, particularly in addressing the on-going stigmatisation of STIs in older age groups.
- sexually transmitted infections
- middle-aged adults