by Dawn Maker
You’re not 25 anymore, but that doesn’t mean you have any less desire to live life to the fullest. Maybe you have recently jumped back into the dating scene or had a loved one pass and are seeking companionship. Seniors, like everyone, have sexual desires and knowing how to stay protected from sexually transmitted infections is just as important for seniors as anyone.
A study by ONE Condom Company shows that within this last year 73% of people between the ages of 57-64 have sex on a regular basis and 53% of people aged 64-75 have sex regularly. While sex can be a positive component to a senior’s life and you may no longer need to worry about pregnancy, many often forget to think about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs are transmitted by anal, oral or vaginal sex and involve the exchange of body fluid (blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk). Anyone, no matter their age, race, or gender can get an STI. STIs do not discriminate!
Correct and consistent condom use is a very effective way to prevent the spread of STIs. However, many seniors dismiss the thought of using condoms. A common argument states that condoms were not used in their youth and so the practice of condom use is not familiar. Another argument revolves around the practice of monogamy. We often hear seniors state that they have been in a long-term relationship for most of their adult life and have only ever had one partner so why would they need a condom? While this is a very valid argument, the statistics clearly show that STIs are prevalent among seniors.
In 2010, there were 15 new cases of HIV among people aged 50 and over. This figure is 25% of the total reported cases for that year. Considering few seniors get tested for HIV and STIs, this number is probably low. Also Chlamydia and Syphilis cases are reported among seniors as well: 23 new Chlamydia and 8 new Syphilis cases in 2010. Studies have shown that 50% of men and 75% of women often have no visible symptoms of an STI; so regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation, if you are having sex, you should be tested every six months.
Sex should not be an embarrassing or uncomfortable word. Sex can be very pleasurable and wonderful, but precautions do need to be taken no matter your age. You can begin today by getting tested and using protection. Testing for HIV and STIs can be done through your doctor’s office, local health department, local community clinic, or at a POSSE testing site in Forsyth County.
Condoms come in all different styles and shapes and are 99.8% effective against STIs when used correctly. However, it is important to remember to use protection when engaging in all types of sex. Dental dams and flavored condoms are proven barriers for oral sex and always use a male or female condom when engaging in vaginal and anal sex. Regardless of the type of condom, it should be made of latex or an approved non-latex material (for those with latex allergies). Condoms made of sheep skin or other materials DO NOT prevent the spread of HIV or STIs.
As previously stated, STIs do not discriminate based on age, race, gender or sexual orientation. Using condoms correctly and consistently, getting tested regularly, and knowing your status can possibly save your life. There is no shame in using protection or getting tested. Enjoy this time of your life and live it to the fullest, but remember to be smart with your sexual health. For more information, contact POSSE at 336-703-3212.
• Of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, an estimated one in five do not know it.
• One third of those who are positive are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection they develop AIDS within one year
• Early diagnosis & treatment saves lives and reduces the spread of HIV infection
• From 2007-2011, Forsyth County has reported at least 50 new HIV
• In 2011, Forsyth County reported 84 cases of HIV disease. The rate of infection was 24.0 per 100,000 population, which ranked fourth among the state’s urban counties.
• Nearly 25% of the Forsyth County HIV cases in 2011 were among
• Because of these high rates of infection, POSSE provides free and confidential HIV and STI testing throughout the community so that infected individuals can know their HIV status and be connected to care.
• More than 50% of men & women have no visible symptoms of HIV or other STIs. If you’re sexually active you should get tested every 6 months.