Older Adult Data
Sexuality research with older adults is an emerging field. While there is not much data available yet, what is available shows that older adults are living sexually active lives and parallel with that, the need for older adult sexuality education has become more apparent.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Syphilis Rates
During 2015–2016, the overall rate of reported P&S syphilis cases increased in all age groups among those aged 15 years or older. Rates increased:
12.8% among those aged 40–44 years,
13.6% among those aged 45–54 years,
25.0% among those aged 55–64 years,
and 50.0% among those aged 65 or older.
13.0% among those aged 15–19 years,
8.1% among those aged 20–24 years,
19.6% among those aged 25–29 years,
20.1% among those aged 30–34 years,
22.1% among those aged 35–39 years,
CDC Additional Data
The CDC reports significant increases in STDs between 2010 and 2014 among adults 65 and over:
Chlamydia infections increased by about 52 percent
Syphilis infections rose by about 65 percent
Gonorrhea cases increased by more than 90 percent
People aged 50 and older accounted for 17% (6,812) of the 39,782 new HIV diagnoses in 2016 in the United States. People aged 50 to 54 accounted for 43% (2,959) of the new diagnoses among people aged 50 and older.b
Among people aged 50 and older, 49% of new HIV diagnoses in 2016 were among gay and bisexual men,d
Based on this data and others, older adults are at rising risk for STDs and HIV. This risk can be compounded by many older adults being embarrassed to initiate sexual health conversations and by the belief that they don’t need this information.
In addition, often, it can be difficult for older adults to find a professional who is willing to discuss sexuality with them.
In a New England Journal of Medicine survey, only 22 percent of women and 38 percent of men said they’d talked about sex with their doctor since they’d turned 50. And doctors might not routinely ask questions about a senior’s sex life during exams.