Madison Avenue has been telling us that 60 is the new 40, with a little help from drugs for baldness and erectile dysfunction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm that our seniors are certainly an active bunch: Last year, it was reported that 24 percent of all AIDS cases were among senior citizens; about a decade ago that figure was only 7 percent. The rocking chair has been traded in for that little red corvette, with all the options.
Unfortunately, condoms are not coming along for the ride, and thus the spectrum of sexually transmitted disease (STD) is on the rise. The elderly, as do many of us, cannot help feeling some embarrassment about being evaluated for an STD, and so it is not surprising that one study found that 43 percent of widows and 21 percent of widowers had been diagnosed with an STD. Other factors responsible for the spread of disease include a higher divorce rate among older citizens, online dating sites, and of course medications such as Viagra and Cialis.
Condoms are not just to prevent pregnancy, but this rather obvious statement is not being internalized by a seeming majority of the older population. A study of single women aged 58 to 93 published by researchers at the University of Chicago found that almost 60 percent of them did not use a condom the last time they engaged in sexual intercourse. This is of major concern to the public health community, as infections that are left untreated can lead in some cases to dementia, pelvic inflammatory disease, and perhaps death.