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Editor,—Jaleel et al recently presented the incidence of sexually transmitted infections and other conditions among elderly people attending a genitourinary medicine clinic.1
We, in our genitourinary medicine department at Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, studied the reasons for attendance of elderly people and compared them with the younger age group. Data were collected from patients aged 60 and above who attended the clinic between January 1998 and December 1998. Randomly selected sex matched people aged 20–35 years are taken for comparison.
A total of 68 elderly people attended the clinic. The mean age was 66.5 years (range 60–83); 61 (90%) were male and seven (10%) were female. Forty one (60%) attended for STI screening and 27 (40%) attended for non-STI management. In the younger age group 60 (88%) attended for STI screening and eight (12%) attended for non-STI management (p<0.001). Sixteen (24%) older attendees had an STI compared with 35 (51%) in the younger age group (see table 1). Of the 16 older attendees with suspected STIs 11(68%) waited over 2 weeks between symptom recognition and clinic attendance. Of 31 symptomatic attendees in the younger age group 10 (32%) waited over 2 weeks for symptom recognition and clinic attendance (p <0.001).
Many elderly people maintain heterosexual and homosexual activity. Therefore this age group is at a risk of all sexually transmitted infections.2 In our study, a smaller percentage of older attendees had STIs compared with previous studies.1, 3 However, the number of older patients who attended for non-STI management are comparable. The delay between symptom recognition and healthcare presentation is a feature of STI related illness behaviour. The delay behaviour among individuals with suspected STIs is age specific, with longer latency periods experienced by people over the age of 50.4 This finding was seen in our study as well.
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