An article in AZ Central reported the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were increasing amongst older adults. In the past year they have found an increase in the cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. There has been a similar trend in Florida; an increase in the older adult population with STIs. Individuals over 50 account for 15% of new HIV cases.
With statistics like these it is obvious that older adults continue to be sexual. Since older adults are living longer some may begin the dating process again after getting divorced or widowed. There are different precautions to take now than when they were first married. Pregnancy may have been the only thing they were worried about and it’s no longer a possibility. Children growing up in the 80s and beyond have never known a life without HIV/AIDS. Many of us remember when Magic Johnson first announced he was HIV+. Growing up in the time of HIV/AIDS children were educated about prevention and had some knowledge about it.
The other problem is many health care professionals don’t ask about sexual practices after a certain age. They are either too embarrassed to ask or they assume a person is not sexual. Also, in older adults HIV symptoms are often the same as the common cold, so it’s treated as such.
If you are beginning to date again, here are some tips to reduce risk:
Go get an STI test and an HIV/AIDS test. Ignorance is not bliss. It is important for your health as well as the health of your sexual partner(s).
Have your partner(s) get an STI test and HIV/AIDS test. It may be awkward to bring up, but suggest that you do it together.
Practice safer sex. Use condoms (female or male) and dental dams to help prevent infections. You could potentially get backlash for suggesting the use of protection. Explain your reasoning and stick to your guns.
Practice abstinence or outer course. There are other intimate sexual activities that don’t require sexual intercourse.
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