Friday, July 15, 2011

STD Rates Rising Among Seniors. Medicare May Provide Screenings.

 No, it's not a joke.

Way back in September of 2006 I posted a link to a story about STDs dramatically escalating in the posh Florida retirement community known as The Villages. The story quoted a gynecologist there who said she treated more cases of herpes and the human papilloma virus in the Orlando-area retirement community than she did in the city of Miami.


Well, sexual sin still has no age limit.

In the five years from 2005 to 2009, the number of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among those 55 and older increased 43 percent, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the Sunbelt where retirees have formed large communities, the rise was even more dramatic.

In Riverside County, Calif., home to retirement mecca Palm Springs, reported cases were up 50 percent over the five-year span, according to data from that county's health department.

The reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among older adults outpaced the nation's average, according to the analysis. Among all age groups nationwide, reported cases of syphilis increased 60 percent between 2005 and 2009, while in the 55 to 64 age group it increased 70 percent. Meanwhile, the incidences of chlamydia rose 27 percent among all ages, and double that among those age 55 to 64.

As a result of the national trend among seniors, Medicare is considering providing coverage for STD screenings for seniors. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid office announced that it was looking into adding STD exams to the national health-insurance program, which already pays for HIV screenings...

"The flower children who were in their 20s back in the 1960s are now in their 70s," said Salagubang. "They're the make-love-not-war generation, and old habits die hard."

Anna Fowlkes is of that generation. Five years ago, the 64-year-old widow, mother and grandmother from Baltimore, tested positive for HIV. She picked it up from a man she dated whom she'd known since her childhood. "We grew up together. We'd started going to church together. I never thought to ask," Fowlkes said.