National STD Awareness Month is not just a reminder for young folks. Older adults, including senior citizens, need to pay attention to the messages. According to the CDC, between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia cases among Americans 65 and older increased 31% and for syphilis 52%. These percentages are similar to those in the 20- to 24- age group.
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among people over 60, more than half the men and 40% of women are sexually active. Even though pregnancy risk is unlikely in this population, this age group could still harbor and pass on an untreated STD. Many seniors also grew up before the "safe sex" messaging about condoms took hold and thus their use is lower.
There are several reasons why older adults may be more susceptible or in danger from STDs than younger adults:
- Lack of regular screening for STDs
- Menopausal changes in women can lead to less lubrication and thinning of tissues making them more susceptible to infections
- Less condom use
- Reduction in immune response in older people.
Social factors that are driving the increase of sexual activity in older adults, and increased exposure to STDs, include longer healthier lives, new medications like Viagra, and the rise in active retirement living communities where socialization is encouraged.