Rising STI Rates Among Older Adults Alarm Health Experts

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Updated 2024-03-30 09:26:33 | Published 2024-03-30 09:26:33
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Rising STI Rates Among Older Adults

There's a notable increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among adults aged 55 and older in the U.S. Data from the CDC shows that rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in this age group more than doubled from 2012 to 2022. Particularly, syphilis cases saw a seven-fold increase, gonorrhea nearly five times, and chlamydia more than tripled in this decade.

Upcoming research presentations at a European medical congress will highlight the underestimation of STI risks among older adults by both healthcare professionals and the patients themselves. This issue isn't confined to the U.S.; similar trends are observed in England, with a 22% rise in STI diagnoses among those over 45 between 2014 and 2019.

Justyna Kowalska, a medical professor in Warsaw, points out that lifestyle changes in older generations, including prolonged sexual activity, might contribute to these rising rates. A survey showed a significant portion of people in their 60s to 80s remain sexually active. Treatments like hormone replacement therapy and erectile dysfunction medications also play a role.

However, gaps in sex education and reluctance to discuss sexual health in older age are contributing factors. Matthew Lee Smith from Texas A&M School of Public Health notes that older generations often lack updated information on STI transmission and prevention, and there's a general hesitation to discuss sexual activities in this age group.

In settings like nursing homes, sexual activity is common and can lead to increased STI risks. Smith highlights that older individuals, particularly women who outlive men, might have multiple partners.

Experts caution that older adults may be more vulnerable to infections due to age-related changes, such as a weaker immune system and physical factors that make sexual intimacy riskier.

To address this issue, health professionals stress the importance of open discussions about safe sex practices with older patients, advocating for their health and safety while acknowledging their right to intimacy.

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