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The reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among older adults outpaced the nation's average, according to the analysis.Among all age groups nationwide, reported cases of syphilis increased 60 percent between 20, while in the 55 to 64 age group it increased 70 percent."Many older Americans face unique prevention challenges, including discomfort in discussing sexual behaviors with physicians and partners, and discomfort discussing condom use," she said. Connie Micklavzina, a gynecologist at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, has started asking her older patients more questions, including whether they would like to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases."Often I see a huge look of relief on their faces, because they are too embarrassed to ask," said Micklavzina, who's been in practice 25 years.
In Riverside County, Calif., home to retirement mecca Palm Springs, reported cases were up 50 percent over the five-year span, according to data from that county's health department.
Across the nation, and especially in communities that attract a lot of older Americans, the free-love generation is continuing to enjoy an active — if not always healthy — sex life. At a stage in life when many would expect sexually transmitted diseases to be waning, aging baby boomers are once again busting stereotypes, setting records and breaking rules.
In the five years from 2005 to 2009, the number of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among those 55 and older increased 43 percent, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"If I think a patient may be sexually active, I suggest he or she gets screened," Salagubang said.
"I let patients know that STDs and HIV are on the rise among seniors and are a lot more common than many seniors think." Although older Americans account for a relatively small proportion of new STD diagnoses overall, providing them education and services to help protect them from infection is critical, said Rachel Powell, CDC spokeswoman.