STD testing: Don't assume older means safer

June 22, 2010

I was asked the other day if I recommended sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing before sex for older couples. The answer is a firm yes! Requesting that your partner get STD testing is an expectation for many in the younger generations. But the same request is uncomfortable for many older people considering a sexual relationship. If you read through my blog postings, you will see why STD testing is so important! Many of my commenters are not in their teens. They are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s! Sexually transmitted diseases don't know age. These viruses and bacteria are happy to infect any age person.

STDs remain a major public health challenge in the United States and throughout the world. In the United States, there are approximately 19 million new STD infections each year. Almost half of them are among young people 15 to 24 years of age. That means the other half are in the older population! The Centers for Disease Control recommends all sexually active men and women who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship should have STD testing.

I know asking your potential partner to get STD testing is a difficult task but it is important! Because so many STDs have no symptoms, it is difficult to know if you or your partner has been exposed to a virus or bacteria.

Asking the question, "Should we get tested first?" is an easier conversation than, "What did you give me?"

Take the approach that you care about each other and you can't know about your status of STDs unless you have been tested. It is important for both of you to have current STD tests. Please take care of each other in this way!

By Lois McGuire, R.N., M.S.N., W.H.N.P.

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