Background: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in persons older than 50 years are rarely studied because STDs are more common in young people. Understanding the epidemiology of STDs in older persons is important for reducing STD morbidity and for improving STD care.
Goal: To understand the epidemiology of STDs in older persons.
Methods: Washington State's STD surveillance data from 1992 to 1998 were analyzed to describe the burden of STDs and source of care for these diseases in older persons.
Results: From 1992 to 1998, 1535 episodes of STDs were reported for 50- to 80-year-olds in Washington State, accounting for 1.3% of all reported STDs. The most common STDs were nongonococcal urethritis in men and genital herpes in women. As compared with younger persons, older individuals more frequently sought care at private clinics and had symptoms at the time of the clinic visit.
Conclusions: Sexually transmitted diseases are reported among older persons, although at lower rates than among younger persons. Services for STD and counseling regarding safe sex should be available to persons of all ages.