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STIs rising in people 50-plus: Medical journal

Written by: QMI Agency
Feb. 2, 2012

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Drugs that make men last longer in the bedroom may also be responsible for a rise in sexually transmitted infections in adults over 50 in the U.K., U.S. and Canada, according to the Student British Medical Journal.

STIs have doubled in 50- to 90-year-olds in the past decade, the journal says in an editorial published Thursday.

Cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in Canada more than tripled among those 40-59: cases of gonorrhea increased to 1,502 from 379; chlamydia rose to 3,387 from 997; and syphilis increased to 527 from 34. Similar statistics were seen in the U.K. and U.S.

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Furthermore, the over-50 age group — not typically considered to be high-risk for HIV infection — now accounts for 20% of adults accessing care for it. While this may be a function of HIV patients living longer, the article says new diagnoses in those 50-plus doubled between 2000 and 2009.

The authors of the editorial — med student Rachel von Simson and consulting doctor Ranjababu Kulasegaram — speculate on the reasons behind the rise in STIs.

"One theory has been that the development of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors to treat erectile dysfunction has allowed men to stay sexually active, and therefore at risk, beyond previous limits," the editorial says.

Women may also be more vulnerable to infections due to physiological changes after menopause.

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