Thursday, September 16, 2010

The promiscuous over-50s fuelling UK STI epidemic - NO

The sexual health charity FPA has just issued a warning of the rising sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates and poor sexual health in groups of men and women aged over 50.
The press release says:
Almost 13,000 men and women over the age of 45 were diagnosed with an STI in 2009, double the numbers in 2000. Last year more men over 45 got genital herpes than 16–19 year old men and over 5,000 men and women over 45 were diagnosed with genital warts in 2009 alone. Chlamydia diagnosis in women has also gone up 95% in nine years
Shock and horror and a minute giggle perhaps?

A quick look at the data used in the press release gives a different story.

In 2009, the total services provided in the UK for sexually transmitted diseases were 2,323,238 – a big number compared with the 13,000 45+ men number.

The press release highlights that more older men than 16-19 years were diagnosed with genital herpes. From a quick look through the numbers this is the only category of STI where this was the case.

What was interesting was the geographic spread of STI. Again, it was only a quick scan of the numbers but the North East of England appears to STI capital of the UK.

Is there a problem with STI and older people? Answer = yes. Does it warrant the scary headlines? Answer = NO.

What it doesn’t warrant is this appalling ad campaign that has been launched.

Forget about the quality of the creative (if you can) but using advertising to reach such a small group is not the best use of promotional spend, especially when there is likely to be other characteristics that enable you to target the vulnerable (perhaps randy is a better word) audience more effectively – like geography. Not good. Dick Stroud

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