Exploring the Social Determinants of Health Associated with Sexually Transmitted Infections in Older Women

Date

2023-09-28

Authors

Monks, Jordan

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Abstract

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise among older women in British Columbia (BC); yet, sexual health research has paid little attention to this population. Similarly, STI prevention, testing, and treatment strategies often concentrate on youth or young adults. This community-based participatory research study examined how and to what extent social determinants influence STI prevention, testing, and treatment among older women (60+) in BC. This includes stigma around older adult sexuality, which is more prevalent in older women and creates barriers to safer sex practices and access to appropriate sexual health services. A mixed- method design, using cross-sectional surveys and interviews with older women across BC, contributed to understanding the sexual health needs of this population. The key themes that influence older women’s STI prevention, testing, and treatment experiences include: 1) knowledge and beliefs, 2) stigma and shame, 3) social determinants of health such as education, access to care without discrimination, and relationships with trust. This research not only contributes to the knowledge base around older women’s social determinants of health in relation to STI-related behaviours, but also provides data to inform recommendations regarding the development of equitable policies, programs, and services that promote the sexual health of older women in BC.

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Keywords

healthy aging, older adult sexual health, STI prevention, STI testing, social determinants of health, women's sexual health

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