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Commentary & Opinion

Canada: "Second Wave" of Sexually Transmitted Disease Hitting Negligent Over-40s

April 20, 2006

"'Do you know where your children are and what they are doing?' is a question that often worries parents.

"Today [STDs] are on the rise in the teenage population. But what about the other side of the coin? A recent report shows that there's also good reason for the teenager to ponder: 'Where are my parents tonight and what are they doing?'

"Dr. Colm O'Mahony is a urologist at the Countess of Chester [National Health Service] Trust in the UK. He recently reported to the Women's Education and Research Society that there is now a 'second wave' of STDs occurring.

"The first wave is in the 16- to 21-year-old population. The second wave seems to have been triggered by the increasing rate of divorce in the over-40s.

"Adults appear to have forgotten what they preached to their children, which is to practice love like porcupines, very, very carefully. This means using condoms to prevent STDs.

"Dr. O'Mahony says the second wave involves not only men but also women who start dating again and feel that condoms are just for kids. At this age, for irrational reasons, they feel safe from STDs ...

"I see this problem in my own medical practice time and again. A divorced or separated woman tells me she now has a 'new relationship.' It's a pleasant-sounding term and, on the surface, it appears to be a serious commitment.

"But there's a problem.

"The same patient a few months later reports: 'I have another new relationship.' And in neither case has anyone thought of using condoms.?

"... Sexually active people should be tested for chlamydia every year or when symptoms appear. And other STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV should be ruled out at the same time.?

"It's been said that life begins at 40. But divorced or separated people who become sexually involved may get more than they bargained for. They would be well advised to remember that STD sets no limitations on sex, race or age. They would be well advised to remember porcupines."

Gifford-Jones is the pen name of Toronto physician and author Ken Walker.

Back to other news for April 20, 2006

Adapted from:
Guelph Mercury
04.15.2006; Dr. W. Gifford-Jones

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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