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Failure to discuss these topics leaves many women in the dark about how to safely navigate new sexual relationships.Studies show that a lower level of knowledge and risk perception for STI transmission can be linked to RSB, a reduction in the intent to use condoms during sexual encounters, and a lower level of testing for STIs.In the United States, the overall incidence of STIs among adults aged 50 has risen in recent years.Statistics on STIs such as trichomoniasis, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus are generally lacking for this age group (the CDC does not recommend routine collection of surveillance data in these cases, although a few jurisdictions/states have initiated collection of such data). This extent is especially apparent with regard to syphilis, the incidence of which has tripled among adults aged 50 , from 2.1 cases per 100,000 individuals in 2001-2002 to 6.3 cases per 100,000 individuals in 2014.In the 2015 nationally representative, cross-sectional Study of Midlife Development in the United States, 2,116 women age 28-84 years answered questions regarding their sexual activity.Although the proportion of women who were sexually active decreased with age, 59% of women aged 60 reported being sexually active in the previous 6 months.Although some of these women came of age during the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, their parents, from a more conservative generation, may not have discussed sex with them when they were children.Even today, HCPs do not routinely discuss sexuality and STIs with their older patients, whom they may view as asexual or not at risk for STIs.
Between 20, chlamydia infections increased by about 52% and gonorrhea cases by more than 90% in adults aged 50 .
In recent years, a new at-risk group has been identified that has been relatively invisible until now: sexually active women aged 50 years or older.
The authors discuss the educational and primary care needs of these women so that their risk for developing STIs can be reduced.
If these women do not know what constitutes risky dating behavior (RDB)/ risky sexual behavior (RSB) or how to practice safer sex, they may be in danger of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
In this article, the authors provide an update on STIs among women aged 50 , discuss sexual attitudes and beliefs among women in this age group that may lead to RDB/RSB, and issue a call to action for healthcare providers (HCPs) to address the sexual health of older women, particularly with regard to discussing safer sex practices.