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Arizona’s Retired Population Faces Rising STD Rates

Arizona may be known for sunny days, but there’s a cloud hanging over the state: rising STD rates among senior citizens.

We’ve written before about increasing STD rates among this population, and we’re updating you on the specifics about senior citizens and STDs in Arizona.

STD Rates Among Seniors in Arizona Climbing

Annual Report on STD Rates

Arizona’s Department of Health Services released its report on 2013 STD rates, and it revealed that the gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia rates among Arizona residents 55+ are increasing.

In particular, the gonorrhea rate went up to 6.8 cases per 100,000 people — from 4.9 in 2012.

One specific county, Maricopa, has even more troubling data on STD rates, with higher increases in 2014. Gonorrhea was up from 6.1 to 12.7 from 2012 to 2014.

Reasons Behind Higher STD Rates

Happy Seniors

Happy senior couple dancing in a garden in sunny summer

Experts agree that STD rates are going up among seniors for several reasons, including:

  • Longer lives: as seniors live longer and are sexually active longer, their STD rates increase.
  • More liberal attitudes: as social norms change and the US as a whole grows more relaxed about sex, seniors are following suit; since they sometimes have a more limited knowledge of sexual health, this means that STD rates are going up.
  • Social lives: as more seniors enter group homes, they are more likely to interact with other seniors, which includes sexual interactions. Even if they aren’t in a home making connections, thanks to the Internet, seniors are meeting love interests more readily, which can translate to higher STD rates.
  • Failure to diagnose: like anyone else, sometimes seniors may have STDs that are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t know to get diagnosed and treated. As they continue to have sex, STD rates will go up.
  • Tissue changes: although no evidence suggests that aging makes seniors more susceptible to STD rates, seniors are more likely to have micro-tears in genital tissues, causing STD bacteria to enter more easily.
  • Sexual drugs: Viagra and Cialis are making it easier for senior men to retain their libido. With sex drives up, sex is more frequent, leading to higher STD rates.
  • Lack of sexual health knowledge: many seniors don’t have a great basis of sexual health knowledge because their parents’ generation was fairly repressive regarding sex. As a result, basic sexual health, like using condoms, doesn’t come naturally to seniors, and STD rates reflect their lack of knowledge.


Stopping the Rising STD Rates

Arizona’s senior population is only getting bigger — the Department of Health Services estimates that in the next decade there will be as many people 65+ as people under 15. This means officials should be concerned with stopping their increasing STD rates.

How can this be achieved? Sexual health education is one important step. Communities and care homes need to educate seniors on the importance of condom use and the basics on STDs and their transmission.

Another key to stopping rising STD rates among seniors? Make sure they’re getting regular STD testing. TEST SMARTLY LABS nationwide can help with this by providing accurate, confidential, and convenient STD testing.

To get started on improving your sexual health, seniors, locate your nearest TEST SMARTLY LABS today!



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