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Oklahoma senior citizen population sees increase in STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases are exploding in the senior citizen population in Oklahoma. Reported cases have more than quadrupled. A report looks at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from the last full decade.Comparing reported STD cases from 2010 to 2019, numbers show in Oklahomans ages 55 and older, gonorrhea cases were up 695%. HIV was up 136% in older Oklahomans.”It’s really not a surprise. It’s kind of disheartening, to be honest,” said William Andrews, with the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service.KOCO 5 spoke to the state health department about the report that looked at information from the CDC about increasing STD rates in seniors. Click here to read the report.”There is an increase in assisted living facilities or seniors living centers,” Andrews said.The study also found that older Oklahomans saw a 518% increase in chlamydia.”It’s an awful big increase, but I think a couple of things go into it,” said Dr. David Chansolme, infectious disease expert with Integris.Chansolme said tests are now more accurate and more available, but that’s not the only advancement in medicine to contribute to this trend.”We have made advancements in medicine that have helped people be more active sexually into their later years whereas perhaps before they weren’t,” Chansolme said.Both Chansolme and Andrews said seniors are less likely to use protection because they’re not worried about pregnancy.”Divorced, be widowed … maybe encountering new sexual partners for the first time in a very long time and have not had to think about these issues before,” he said.KOCO 5 asked Andrews what can be done to slow this trend?”Older adults also may not have received sexual health information or may be more reluctant to talk about it with their physician. No different than anything else, talking to your doctor about a sprained ankle, people need to be comfortable talking to their healthcare provider about their sexual health,” Andrews said.Experts are concerned about all STD trends but said some are easily treatable while others, such as HIV and syphilis, are much more serious.

Sexually transmitted diseases are exploding in the senior citizen population in Oklahoma.

Reported cases have more than quadrupled. A report looks at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from the last full decade.

Comparing reported STD cases from 2010 to 2019, numbers show in Oklahomans ages 55 and older, gonorrhea cases were up 695%. HIV was up 136% in older Oklahomans.

“It’s really not a surprise. It’s kind of disheartening, to be honest,” said William Andrews, with the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service.

KOCO 5 spoke to the state health department about the report that looked at information from the CDC about increasing STD rates in seniors. Click here to read the report.

“There is an increase in assisted living facilities or seniors living centers,” Andrews said.

The study also found that older Oklahomans saw a 518% increase in chlamydia.

“It’s an awful big increase, but I think a couple of things go into it,” said Dr. David Chansolme, infectious disease expert with Integris.

Chansolme said tests are now more accurate and more available, but that’s not the only advancement in medicine to contribute to this trend.

“We have made advancements in medicine that have helped people be more active sexually into their later years whereas perhaps before they weren’t,” Chansolme said.

Both Chansolme and Andrews said seniors are less likely to use protection because they’re not worried about pregnancy.

“Divorced, be widowed … maybe encountering new sexual partners for the first time in a very long time and have not had to think about these issues before,” he said.

KOCO 5 asked Andrews what can be done to slow this trend?

“Older adults also may not have received sexual health information or may be more reluctant to talk about it with their physician. No different than anything else, talking to your doctor about a sprained ankle, people need to be comfortable talking to their healthcare provider about their sexual health,” Andrews said.

Experts are concerned about all STD trends but said some are easily treatable while others, such as HIV and syphilis, are much more serious.

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