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STDs Rates Climb Among Seniors

STDs in seniors are up by 43 percent, according to study.

A new study shows STD rates are climbing among the older generation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of syphilis and chlamydia cases has climbed 43 percent over a five-year span.

Seniors find love

According to reports, seniors are more sexual active and with that increase in activity comes a spike in STDs.

“These seniors may lose a spouse, then get lonely,” Dr. Jason Salagubang, a geriatrician on staff at Florida Hospital Apopka tells AARP. “They’re living in retirement communities with others in the same boat, and sparks fly.”

Salagubang went on to say, “The flower children who were in their 20s back in the 1960s are now in their 70s. They’re the make-love-not-war generation, and old habits die hard.”

Sex still taboo to talk about

For some seniors talking about their sex life is still embarrassing. For Anna Fowlkes, discussing condom use with her new partner didn’t come up.

“We grew up together. We’d started going to church together. I never thought to ask,” Fowlkes said. The 64-year-old woman was recently diagnosed with HIV and now spends time talking with seniors about having safe sex.

While seniors seem to shy away from talking about safe sex with their partner, they are also unlikely to talk to their doctor about it.

Seniors are too embarrassed to talk about sex.

“If I think a patient may be sexually active, I suggest he or she gets screened,” Salagubang said. “I let patients know that STDs and HIV are on the rise among seniors and are a lot more common than many seniors think.”

Dr. Connie Micklavzina, a gynecologist at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando says, doctors should spark the conversation.

“Often I see a huge look of relief on their faces, because they are too embarrassed to ask,” said Micklavzina. “The responsibility of bringing this up should be on the practitioner, not the patient, to make the conversation easier.”