'Greatest generation' of Florida seniors are also great at catching syphilis and other STDs


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Ready for a harsh reality? Old people are having sex. With a rise in STDs nationwide, Florida is seeing some of the highest numbers of syphilis infections thanks, in part, to the greatest generation.

According to a CDC report in 2018, men aged 65 years or older saw a 16.7% increase in syphilis diagnosis. This is on the heels of a record-breaking year for STDs in America, with 2.3 million cases being reported in 2018 alone.

In 2014 and 2017, diagnosis rates for herpes simplex, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and trichomoniasis rose 23 percent in patients over the age of 60, according to Athena Health database.

More and more medicines available on the market allow for senior citizens to maintain a sexually active lifestyle than ever before. The erectile dysfunction market is a $4.82 billion industry with an expected generated revenue of $7.10 billion by the end of 2024, according to a report published by Zion Market Research.

As the amount of sexually active senior citizens increase, so has the probability of spreading STDs. Conversely, the amount and range of medications taken by seniors can break down the amount of good bacteria needed to fight off some illnesses. This can lead to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases which in turn, could leave elderly patients at risk for far more serious medical consequences.

Florida pathologist Morton Levitt, M.D., sees a number of these cases involving senior citizens.

“Seniors don’t seem to be shy about sex, which should make it easier for them to have a candid conversation with their doctor," Levitt said in a press release. "Running the right tests in our pathology laboratory at the right time can mean quick treatment for STDs and faster recovery. But ultimately it comes down to practicing safe sex.”

Levitt is a current member of the College of American Pathologists, which has been holding its annual meeting in Orlando from Sept. 21 to 25.

When it comes to seniors and sex, Levitt has a few tips for patients and medical professionals. For one, physicians need to talk more actively with patients about sex, STDs and HIV, and should continually test older patients who say they are sexually active for chlamydia and other STDs. Levitt urges senior patients to take charge of their health by practicing safe sex and openly talking to their doctor as well as their partner.

"Encourage patients to get tested regularly in order to catch and treat infections quickly."

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