08 Aug STD’S in Older Adults
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for a STD. Advancing age is not a protection from a STD. In fact, according to a 2015 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, people 50 and over account for an estimated 45% of Americans diagnosed with HIV.
In addition, between 2007 and 2011, among adults 65 and older, the CDC reported a 31% increase in chlamydia infections and a 52% increase in syphilis. While the majority of STD’s are in the younger population these increases among the older generation are causes for concern.
Types of STD’s
STD’s are passed from one person to another through any kind of sexual activity. The CDC lists over a dozen different sexually transmitted diseases including:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Risk Factors for Seniors
After a divorce or death of a spouse, seniors in previous long-term marriages are dating again–often for the first time in decades. And most of them never received safe sex education–especially transmission of HIV. In addition, seniors are living longer and remain sexually active later in life. Moving into large assisted living facilities is also making it easier for seniors to meet people.
Other risk factors for seniors include:
- Older Americans less likely to report symptoms to a health care practitioner out of a lack of knowledge or embarrassment;
- Seniors often receive a diagnosis of a STD when it is too late to benefit from any type of treatment;
- Existing health conditions can weaken a senior’s immune system leaving them more prone to a STD infection;
- Because of their age, seniors think they are not be at risk for getting a STD;
- Older adults are reluctant to discuss a potential partner’s sexual history;
- Seniors are not regularly screened for STD’s by physicians;
- Medications, such as Viagra, are making it possible for older men to remain sexually active;
- Since pregnancy is no longer a concern, many seniors do not use condoms.
If you are a senior who is sexually active (and not in a monogamous relationship) educate yourself on safe sex. It’s also important to note that you can be infected with a STD but do not have any symptoms. However, the disease may still be causing damage to your to your body. In addition, you can unknowingly infect another person with a STD. This is why STD’s are also called sexually transmitted infections or STI’s.
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers STI screenings for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis B once every 12 months. Talk to your physician or go to https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/default.htm for more information.
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