January 6, 2011
A survey of 1,804 Korean men and women age 60 and older suggests that seniors lack adequate knowledge of safe-sex practices and underestimate their risk for STD infection.
"With the rising life expectancy and improving health conditions, a growing number of senior citizens are seeking an active sex life," explained study authors Lee Seung-joo and Choi Hyun-seob, professors at the Urology Department at St. Vincent's Hospital, which is affiliated with Catholic University of Korea.
The average age of survey participants was 64.6, and most resided in Seoul or other urban centers. Of the 816 men and 988 women, roughly 26.2 percent said they did not ever use condoms for intercourse, while 28.6 percent said they did so only occasionally. Some 78.2 percent had not previously been screened for STDs.
Of respondents, 37.5 percent reported that they or their partners have taken Viagra or similar drugs. Around 10.6 percent of the men reported sex with a prostitute at least once within the past year.
"Given that an increasing number of senior citizens are engaging prostitutes, the government should make greater efforts to increase the awareness about the risk of unprotected sex and properly treat senior citizens infected with STDs," said Choi.
South Korean Health Ministry data show that STD cases among those 65 and older increased from 44,000 in 2007 to 64,000 in 2009. Seniors accounted for 5.5 percent of total STD patients in 2009, up from 4 percent three years ago.
The study, "Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections and the Sexual Behavior of Elderly People Presenting to Health Examination Centers in Korea," was published in the Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy (2011; doi:10.1007/s10156-010-0191-0).