A European project involving the University of Chichester has received €2.5 million from the EU Interreg 2Seas programme to help tackle the rise in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) in the people aged over-45.
The SHIFT (Sexual Health In the over Forty-fives) project aims to get the over-45s engaged and talking about sexual health. The project comes at a time when studies reveal major changes in sexual behaviour over the last century, including increasing numbers of sexually active older people. The over-45s at risk are generally those entering new sexual relationships after a period of monogamy, often post-menopause, when pregnancy is no longer a consideration, but little thought is given to STIs.
The SHIFT will link 11 organisations across the South East of England, France, Belgium and The Netherlands, including the University of Chichester. It will engage with those over 45, developing a tailored sexual health and wellbeing model supported by training programmes for sexual health professionals.
Dr Ruth Lowry, Reader in the Psychology of Active Living at the University of Chichester, is leading the evaluation of the SHIFT project. She explained: "The objective of SHIFT is to improve the sexual health and wellbeing of people aged 45 and over, empowering them to participate in sexual health services, with an additional and specifically adapted focus on socio-economically disadvantaged groups across the 2Seas area."
Dr Lowry explained that a sexual health and wellbeing model to engage with people aged 45+ is expected to reach 150,000 relevant people and a tailored strategy will reach 40,000 people experiencing socio-economic vulnerability and will create a network of links with organisations who work directly with these groups to ensure increased awareness about the specific approaches required when discussing sexual health.