Article Date: 05 Feb 2012 – 11:00 PST
Baby boomers in the leading three English-speaking economies, the USA, UK and Canada, are being diagnosed at progressively higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to a report written by researchers from King’s College London, and Thomas’ Hospital London, in the Student British Medical Journal. The authors Dr. Ranjababu Kulasegaram, and final year medical student Rachel von Simson, explain that a significant number of older adults appear not to be practicing safe sex.
The authors explain that when a 56-year-old male has “waterworks” problems, or a 61-year-old female experiences lower abdominal pain, they do not usually expect these to be symptoms of an STD; but more often today they are.
In their study, the researchers found that over four-fifths of 50 to 90 year olds are sexually active in the UK, USA and Canada. The number of reported cases of STDs in this age group has more than doubled since the beginning of the millennium.
STDs in the United Kingdom among Baby Boomers
In England, the number of adults aged 45+ years reported with a newly diagnosed STD rose to nearly 13,000 in 2009; twice as many as in 2000.
In 2000, approximately 11% of patients with HIVwere aged 50 years or more, compared to 20% today, according to data from the UK Health Protection Agency. Part of this increase may be due to prolonged survival. However, the number of new diagnoses in this age group doubled from 2000 to 2009.
STDs in the United States among Baby Boomers
According to data gathered from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA), STD figures in the USA are as follows:
- Year 2000
45-54 year age group – 706 diagnoses of infectious syphilis
55-64 age group – 179 diagnoses of infectious syphilis
45-54 year age group – 5,601 diagnoses of Chlamydia
55-64 age group – 1,110 diagnoses of Chlamydia
- Year 2010
45-54 year age group – 2,056 diagnoses of infectious syphilis
55-64 age group – 493 diagnoses of infectious syphilis
45-54 year age group – 16,106 diagnoses of Chlamydia
55-64 age group – 3,523diagnoses of Chlamydia
STDs in the Canada among Baby Boomers
According to data collected from various health authorities in Canada:
- Year 1997
40-59 age group – 379 reported cases of gonorrhea
40-59 age group – 997 reported cases of Chlamydia
- Year 2007
40-59 age group – 1,502 reported cases of gonorrhea
40-59 age group – 3,387 reported cases of Chlamydia
The researchers say it is too early to be sure what the reasons for these increases in STD infections among baby boomers might be. They suspect it is a combination of more older people being sexually active – especially since medications for erectile dysfunction came onto the market, and certain chronic diseases are more successfully controlled today – as well as a higher prevalence of unsafe sex.
The authors add that older women, whose sexual organs have less lubrication, are more vulnerable to minor microabrasions, which makes it easier for pathogens to enter the body. Furthermore, vaginal pH rises as women get older. Women with higher vaginal pH are more susceptible to gonorrhea and Chalmydia infections.