STD’s are on the rise in adults age 60 and up
March 16, 2021
Though it may come as a surprise to some, the rate of sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection has been steadily increasing among men and women over the age of 60 for the last seven years.
To be fair, seniors aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every five Americans has an STD. It is important to note this figure does not include the thousands of people infected with an STD who have not been tested because they are asymptomatic.
The CDC’s most recent estimates show there are approximately 26 million new infections in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone.
Another concern—anyone who is sexually active could be exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. CDC statistics indicate that adults age 50 and older make up almost half of the population living with HIV in the United States.
According to Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David Gude, the repercussions of an undiagnosed STD can be severe. “STD’s put men and women at risk for lifelong health complications like severe reproductive health issues and increased risk in contracting another STD.”
According to a recent poll conducted by the University of Michigan, among adults age 65 – 80, 74% believe sex is an important part of a romantic relationship, and 54% reported being sexually active.
Yet, older adults may have missed the formal sex education that began in the 1980’s when HIV/AIDS was discovered and may not realize protected sex provides benefits even after the risk of pregnancy is no longer a concern.
Testing is critical in every population, but especially so with seniors who may have compromised immune systems. Yet, many sexually active seniors avoid getting tested, often due to a lack of education about STD’s or out of embarrassment. Unfortunately, this prevents seniors from the benefits of medication that may be implemented in the early stages of infection. Delaying treatment can lead to serious, and sometimes permanent damage.
The bottom line is this—if you are sexually active at any age you should use a condom unless you are in an exclusive relationship and get tested for STD’s. There are many incorrect assumptions about STD’s and testing. Click here to read our article on Six Common Myths About STD’s. It’s also important to speak to your doctor, who can answer any questions you have, and to request testing if you’re sexually active.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about STD’s or getting tested.