This post originally appeared in VICE UK
You think being old is all, Oh damn, guess I'm really racist now, or, Uh oh, just snapped my thighbone like a breadstick, but guess what, it isn't: Being old is a first-class ticket to Fuck City.
Believe it. The UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA) has recently issued warnings to any over-50s who are planning to go on a cruise because they keep getting genital warts. Yeah! And you thought cruises were just making tanned boys with lithe hands massage oil into your veiny old legs and spending $500 on a nice shawl at a market in Barbados. They aren't: it's toothless blowjobs and Werther's-flavored cunnilingus. Welcome to Fuck City. Population: your grandma.
"Remember alcohol can lower you inhibitions, potentially putting you at risk of sexually transmitted infections," the Public Health England travel guide says in what—no joke—is called the "silver sailors" fact sheet. "If there is a chance you might have casual sex, be prepared: take in-date, good quality condoms with you."
None of this "I took this condom to the battle of the Somme and it stopped a bullet from hitting me in the heart" shit, Grandad! We're talking in-date, son! Name brand!
If you're thinking, like, Wait, my grandma doesn't have sex. She's old and dry as a bone. Plus, she puts biscuits on my saucer without washing her hands first—well you're wrong; think again. According to the HPA, the rate of common STIs like HPV, herpes and gonorrhea are all on the rise in the over-65s age group and, even though the rate is pretty low and stable, they're still getting quite a lot of syphilis, too. Grandma's getting it, and she's getting it raw.
HPA data also shows why OAPs are at risk of developing STIs—first, men over the age of 65 are twice as likely to have herpes than women of the same age; and secondly, more people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s are having sex with new partners in the last ten years than ever before. People are living longer, buying dick pills for cheaper, and they are figuring out how to use those large-font dating sites. Olde-tyme sex is rife.
Cruises aren't the only place OAPs are having sex—that's just their version of those Ibiza boat parties where people do competitive oral on each other for shots. They're also doing it in care homes, where, in the US at least, free screenings for STIs has been on the rise. In 2011–2012, 2.2 million free tests and counseling sessions have been doled out to the 47.6 million eligible Medicare beneficiaries in the US.
But STIs are a danger, especially as, like, old people are already pretty weak sometimes. If a sharp fall on some ice is enough to put them out of action for a six months, imagine what gonorrhea is doing to their dicks. With the 45-to-64 and 65-and-over age groups seeing the second highest and highest rise in syphilis over the last ten years of available data, the HPA has gone so far as to launch a retro, "Hey, remember flares? Well try remembering a condom, too"–style STI awareness campaign.
It's not like OAPs are the only ones who need a bit of sex ed: In the UK, young people desperately need same-sex education and awareness; in Africa, there is a new campaign to promote condom usage after the boom in popularity of "dry sex"; and seeing as it's the future and sex is changing, we could all do with a recap as to the various robots and sex apparatus we can put on our collective junk to get off. Basically: If you haven't read a pamphlet or two in the last ten years, maybe give it a try.
Anyway, if you're struggling to buy anything for your grandma this Christmas, pro-tip: Boxes of condoms are really easy to wrap.
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