STD rates rising among senior patients: 7 things to know

Sexually transmitted diseases diagnoses have increased by 23 percent between 2014 and 2017 in adults over the age of 60, according to an analysis conducted by athenainsight.

Seven things to know:

1. Among all ages groups STDs are rising, according to U.S. News & World Report. In 2017, there were about 2.3 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in the U.S.

2. Adults over the age of 60 had a 23 percent increase between the years 2014 and 2017, while  other age groups saw an 11 percent increase.

"Although it appears that there's an increase in rates, the rates [of sexually transmitted infections among older adults] are still exceedingly low," Stacy Lindau, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and medicine-geriatrics at the University of Chicago, told U.S. News & World Report.

3.  The increase in STD cases were more prevalent in men than women and more prevalent in men having sex with men, said Lisa Granville, MD, professor of geriatrics at Tallahassee, Fla.-based Florida State University College of Medicine.  However, everyone within the age group 60 years or more is at risk.

4. The increase in STDs in older patients could be attributed to physicians not asking older patients if they need to be tested or should be tested. Another reason may be that patients are not seeing their physicians annually.

5. The STD rate may have not increased, but "an improvement in detection" leads to a higher amount of reported numbers, according to Dr. Granville.

6. More effective FDA-approved medications to treat sexual male dysfunction may also be contributing to the STD increase among older adults, Dr. Lindau said.

"We may see more sexual activity in older age groups than we did 20 or 30 years ago," said Dr. Lindau. "More sexual activity does increase the probability of sexually transmitted infections in the population, especially if the population is not targeted with effective messaging either from the public health sphere or their doctors about safe sex."

7. Dr. Granville said the exchange of educational materials between sexual partners and patients and providers  is highly encouraged in stopping sexually transmitted diseases, regardless of age.

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