The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that in the U.S. the rates of all STIs (sexually transmissible infections), including HIV, have been increasing with an estimated 19 million new cases each year and in 2010 more than 1 million people have been found living with HIV. It seems that almost half of the new cases of STIs are among people between 15 and 24 but this doesn’t mean that older adults are not at risk.
In fact, according to a new research made in UK by the Center for Sexual Health & HIV Research at University College London and the Family Planning Association, assuming that sexually transmitted infections are just increasing among young people is completely wrong. The sad truth is that sexually transmitted infection diagnosis rates are on the increase among all age groups yet specifically among middle aged adults because they are oblivious when it comes to safe sex and using condoms. The surveillance revealed that more men over the age of 45 caught genital herpes in 2010 than those between the age of 16 and 19, and that over 5,000 cases were reported for both men and women in the same year. But why did this happen?
A study published in July 2010 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that men who use erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra have higher rates of STIs in the year before and after use of these drugs. Besides, it looks like middle aged males and females feel embarrassed about seeking out information about STIs, and some think that they no longer need to use condoms because of their age. This might be the reason why in the past nine years, the number of women with a Chlamydia infection soared by 95 per cent in US as well as in European countries. But these middle aged adults, especially if they are single, are using websites, dating nights and holidays as ways to find new partners so the rate of spreading a STI is very high.
Consistent use of condoms is the most reliable way of preventing HIV transmission next to abstinence, and is effective in preventing other transmissible diseases and unintended pregnancy as well. The lack of condom use by middle adults is noteworthy, disturbing and dangerous as well. From here comes a clear need to educate men and women over 40 about the perils of unprotected sex and the advantages of condom use. Even these men and women are no longer young, they should not feel embarrassed and ask for help. After all, STIs don’t care about graying hair and wrinkles.
“Don’t just think about these infections as a concern of teenagers,” says Dr. Tom Wong, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, since this issue seems to be a global issue. “STIs are alive and well. The message we want middle-aged Canadians to take home is that it’s important to think about your sexual health as you go about your relationships. Practice safer sex.”