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Michigan: Sex and the Senior -- What Older Adults Need to Know That Is Not Often Talked About

September 1, 2010

Older adults comprise a small but growing population of residents in the Grand Rapids area with STDs.

"While the absolute numbers seem small, I worry about exponential growth," said Dr. Russell Lampen, an infectious-disease specialist with Spectrum Health Medical Group.

In Kent County, chlamydia cases among those age 45 and older increased from 338 in 2002 to 527 in 2007. In that same age group, gonorrhea cases increased from 549 to 686 during those years.

Some researchers attribute the increase in STDs among older adults to the availability of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs. At the same time, it is possible that people who choose to use such drugs also are less likely to engage in safe-sex practices.

Another explanation is generational. Those who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s may perceive STDs as curable and thus relatively insignificant.

"I think people sort of see these as diseases of adolescence, not something that would affect older people -- something kids get, not adults," Lampen said.

Lampen encouraged health officials to broach the issue of safe sex with older adults, particularly those who are single, and men who request ED drugs.

"Patients need to realize the only safe sex is when they protect [them]selves with a condom. You can't predict which partner is safe by appearance," Lampen said.

Back to other news for September 2010

Adapted from:
Grand Rapids Press
08.09.2010; Paul R. Kopenkoskey

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.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention Issues for Older People

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