Update Your Sex Education
October 2, 2008
Older adults re-entering the dating scene may need a refresher course on how to protect themselves from STDs, according to Dr. Michelle Blodgett.
"Men may be particularly susceptible [to STDs] if they're dating younger women who have had multiple partners or have used drugs," said Blodgett, director of the Counseling Center for Older Adults at Nova Southwestern University in Fort Lauderdale. Older women, on the other hand, may feel they have no need of protection during sex since pregnancy is no longer a possibility.
"STDs are increasing in this age group across the board in [Pinellas County], both in the gay community and in the white female population," said Jeannine Mallory, public information officer for the Pinellas County Health Department.
"We encourage seniors to talk to their physicians about these things," said Mallory. "It's a different world than when we went to high school. If they're embarrassed [to speak to their personal physician], they can come to any of our five health centers. Patients can ask detailed questions of their doctors or at the clinics and get tests for HIV/AIDS and STDs. People also don't realize that hepatitis can spread through sex, and patients can get immunized against [types A and B]."
Scott Bryan, a spokesperson for CDC, said a recent analysis showed a 2 percent annual decline between 2001 and 2005 in new HIV diagnoses among people ages 50 to 64. In addition, rates of STDs remained stable between 2002 and 2006 for those 55 and older. Even so, he said, "It is important that seniors get information and services to help protect them from infection," and important as well for doctors to assess their older patients' risk of contracting an STD.
St. Petersburg Times
09.30.2008; Molly Arost Staub
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.