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U.S. News

STD Rates Soar Among Older Adults

May 19, 2011

Reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among people ages 55 and older increased 43 percent from 2005 to 2009, CDC data show. Factors that may be driving the STD increase among older Americans include people living longer, healthier lives, and the introduction of sex-enhancing medicines such as Viagra. In addition, many seniors were never the target of safe-sex campaigns in the past, so their condom use is lower, say experts.


Though older Americans represent a small proportion of new STD diagnoses overall, they "face unique prevention challenges, including discomfort in discussing sexual behaviors with physicians and partners, and discomfort discussing condom use," said Rachel Powell, a CDC spokesperson.

Dr. Connie Micklavzina, a gynecologist at Orlando's Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, said she has begun asking her older patients if they would like to be screened for STDs. "Often I see a huge look of relief on their faces, because they are too embarrassed to ask. The responsibility of bringing this up should be on the practitioner, not the patient, to make the conversation easier," she said.

In February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it is considering providing coverage for STD screenings as well as related behavioral counseling for seniors. Medicare already pays for HIV tests.

Back to other news for May 2011

Adapted from:
Orlando Sentinel
04.17.2011; Marni Jameson

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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