Friday, November 5, 2010

Safe Sex Applies to All Age Groups

In 2007 when I was researching and writing my book, Worth Waiting For: Sane Sex for Singles, I was amazed to learn that unsafe still happens in every age group – a lot. How is this possible? While the safe sex message is not as prominent as it was fifteen years ago, it is still being promoted. The target age group, however, is young—under age thirty. Yet, although the message is aimed at this audience more consistently than it is at those over forty, an alarming number of young adults still have unsafe sex. Of the twenty-five to forty-four-year-olds surveyed, 39 percent did not use a condom the last time they had sex and likewise for 20 percent of the eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds. Sadly almost half of the new STD infections are among adolescent girls (!

How about those over 45? Is it possible they have not heard of safe sex? I think it’s unlikely, but consider a study conducted by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in May 2008. Of single people with at least two sexual partners, some 44 percent of those over age forty-five reported not using condoms the last time they had sex. A University of Chicago survey of single women ages fifty-eight to ninety-three revealed that nearly 60 percent said they hadn’t used a condom the last time they had sex. It’s not surprising then that, in less than a decade, STD rates have more than doubled among people ages forty-five and older. From 1996 to 2003, the total cases of chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and genital warts among people over forty-five increased by 127 percent (.

But these STDs aren’t the only concern for this age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of HIV carriers by 2015 will be over age fifty, and about 15 percent of new infections occur in this age group. It’s alarming to consider that an Ohio University study found that about 27 percent of HIV-infected men and 35 percent of HIV-infected women over fifty sometimes have sex without using condoms (

Although HIV/AIDS is not the automatic death sentence it once was, it not curable. Safe sex is not an option. It is a requirement every time for anyone who cherishes their health and well being.

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