Rate of STDs Disproves Myth on 50+ Sex Life

Rates of HIV/AIDS, herpes, syphilis, human papilloma virus (HPV), and other STDs are climbing for people over the age of 50, indicating that increasingly more of these individuals are having sex according to a report in the journal MEDSURG Nursing. 

Researchers also note that because of “ageism and social stigmas, these diseases aren't really on health care providers' radar screens,” according to a statement released on Tuesday.

Researchers said that delayed treatment can be seriously damaging to the health of patients with STDs, and can cause serious complications and even death, according to the statement.

"Unfortunately, the common misconception still persists that people over 50 are no longer sexually active," wrote co-authors Lisa Jeffers and Mary DiBartolo in their report.  "As a result, health care providers often do not discuss risky sexual behaviors and STD prevention with middle-aged and older adults."

Jeffers is a Nurse Practitioner at Atlantic General Wound Center in Berlin, MD. DiBartolo is an associate professor of nursing at Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD.

Rates of HIV/AIDS have jumped from 17percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2005, and for other STDs the Centers for Disease Control showed in an annual 2004 to 2005 report that syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased in people over the age of 40.

Experts attribute the reasons that people in this age group are more sexually active than previous generations to more liberal sexual attitudes, high divorce rates and an increased use of online dating services, according to a statement by Researchers.

Researchers of the study urge health care professionals to help patients feel comfortable about discussing sexual matters, educate them about risks, and provide thorough physical assessments and screening tests.

"Initiatives need to be developed to assist older adults in coping with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and other STDs," the researchers said in a statement.

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