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Looking for answers to why older people continue to catch STDs

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

It's become increasingly clear in the past few years that older individuals may not understand the risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases and the need to use STD testing services, just like their younger counterparts. Baby boomers and even those who are aged 70 or older are still sexually active, and the rate of STDs is rising in these populations. Recently, The New York Times published an article searching for answers as to why boomers are contracting STDs at surprisingly high rates.

The news source explained that the number of individuals over the age of 50 seeking treatment for STDs and HIV has risen, and in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 22,000 cases of chlamydia in people between the ages of 45 and 64. Furthermore, there were more than 12,000 cases of gonorrhea in these individuals, and 2,600 incidences of syphilis.

Why is this happening?
The Times reported that one possible reason why STD rates are higher among older people now than in past decades is simply because people are living longer, so there are more of them around to contract these infections and viruses.

However, it's likely not that simple. The news source spoke to Heather Whitson, M.D., an assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke University, who explained that many older people may be thinking that they are actually having safer sex when they're not She said what some individuals think that because they have not been very sexually active in the past few years, the same goes for their partners, but they need to remember that they can never be sure of someone's sexual history.

Furthermore, some older people may not use condoms because they no longer have to worry about pregnancy. Individuals need to remember that just because they can't get pregnant doesn't make them immune to STDs.

The AARP published an article in its magazine in 2011, which showed that STD cases in Riverside County, Calif. - home to the large retirement community known as Palm Springs - rose by 50 percent from 2005 to 2009.

AARP magazine spoke to Anna Fowlkes, who is age 64, who explained that many people in her generation grew up not talking about sex. This suggests that more educational programs may be needed to reduce STD rates among older individuals.

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