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Senior Citizens Spreading STDs Like Wildfire

Senior Citizens

Senior Citizens are spreading STDs like wildfire according to statistics recently released from the CDC. Some might find the numbers shocking, especially those who might be surprised at the level of sexual activity among single seniors. According to the CDC, diseases like Syphilis and Chlamydia increased by 52 and 31 percent respectively from 2007 to 2011. This puts seniors in competition with young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in terms of the biggest increase in STDS. Young people in this age group had similar numbers in terms of increases in these types of illnesses.

The rate of STDs among seniors has been growing steadily for the last several years. In 2010, the CDC reported that rates of STDs in seniors had doubled from 2000 to 2010. They continued to increase after that report with rates being the highest  in the state of Florida.

Reasons for the increase may be connected to drug use, specifically use of erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis. In 2010, a study showed that older men taking these types of medications had an STD rate that was double that of their counterparts who did not take medicines for erectile dysfunction.  Besides drug use, the fact that seniors are living longer with better health also contributes to their increased sexual activity.

Senior citizens are also far less likely to use condoms than are their younger counterparts. A study out of Massachusetts General Hospital found that men aged 50 and over were six times less likely to use condoms than men in their twenties. Despite the fact that STDs are becoming a major problem among the senior set, the CDC reports that a mere 5 percent of seniors are utilizing the free STD testing that is provided to them through Medicare.

Besides the statistics that prove senior citizens are spreading STDs like wildfire, there are also many anecdotal reports in the media of senior citizens living in retirement communities who enjoy a “college dorm” type of atmosphere. This issue has also been reflected in movies and television shows, often with comedic effect. However, STDs are no laughing matter. Besides the curable diseases like Syphilis and Chlamydia, life-threatening HIV is also on the rise in the senior demographic.

Seniors who live in assisted living centers or retirement communities aren’t getting the education they obviously need with regard to STDs and how to take preventative measures against contracting such diseases. The combination of access to drugs like Viagra and a lack of education on susceptibility to STDS is a perfect storm of danger for seniors who are still enjoying an active sex life.

Senior citizens are spreading STDs like wildfire and this issue shows no signs of abating anytime soon. STDs have been rising drastically in this community for at least the last 14 years and seem be continuing their upward trend despite a public service announcement about the problem, which was produced last year. It seems clear that more resources and educational opportunities are needed to stem the rising tide of STDs among senior citizens.

By: Rebecca Savastio


New York Times

CBS News


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