STDs have risen among adults 55 and older: CDC

Story at a glance

  • Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that cases of sexually transmitted diseases are skyrocketing among older Americans.

  • Some diseases have seen a nearly eightfold increase since 2010.

  • Researchers think misconceptions about STDs among older Americans are contributing to the rise.

Sexually transmitted disease rates are rising among adults 55 years old and older, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cases of gonorrhea have grown roughly sevenfold since 2010 among American adults older than 55, per the data.

Meanwhile, the CDC numbers also show cases of chlamydia have more than quadrupled since 2010 among the same age group and syphilis cases in 2022 were nearly eight times higher.

Some researchers think STD rates are climbing in this age group because older adults are having more sex than in years past, according to reporting from The Washington Post.

On top of this, older adults rarely use protection, which increases the odds of spreading disease, according to a 2023 study published in peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.

“This generation rarely considers using protection because they came of age at a time when sex education in school did not exist, HIV was virtually unheard of, and their main concern in seeking protection was to avoid pregnancy,” Janie Steckenrider, associate professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University and lead author of the study, writes.

Steckenrider added that older adults might be encouraged to participate in “the hook-up culture of casual encounters and condomless sex” by the use of dating apps and the availability of drugs for sexual dysfunction.

Research also shows that a lack of knowledge about STIs among some older adults and some doctors’ embarrassment around asking older patients about sexual habits could also be contributing to the rise.

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