| Tue, Apr 30, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Sexually Transmitted Disease and You

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

STDs and youYou might think that older adults are beyond having to worry about sexually transmitted infections (STI) and diseases. Not so, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate of STI among older adults has increased dramatically in recent years.

April is STI Awareness Month. Now is a good time to get smart about the growing problem. Here are a few statistics from the CDC’s latest reports.

  • Syphilis: 885 reported cases in 45- to 64-year-olds in 2000; more than 2,500 cases in 2010
  • Chlamydia: 6,700 cases in 45- to 64-year-olds in 2000; more than 19,000 by 2010
  • HIV: 15 percent of new diagnoses were in people age 50 and older in 2005, the most recent year of CDC data

Experts aren’t certain of the reasons for the increased rates of infection. There has been very little research into the sexual behavior of older adults. However, longer lives, more divorce leading to more sex partners and the availability of drugs for erectile dysfunction are just a few things that may be having an impact.

Fortunately, most STIs are easily treated with antibiotics. But first the infection must be detected. Screening for STIs is essential, since some have few real symptoms.

Medicare Now Covers STD Screening

Recognizing the need, Medicare Part B added STI screenings to its list of preventive services in 2012. You can get tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and Hepatitis B once every 12 months. In addition, you may receive up to two behavioral counseling sessions each year if you have an increased risk of infection.

You pay nothing for STI screenings or behavioral counseling if your doctor or primary care practitioner accepts Medicare assignment. You must receive the counseling from a primary care practitioner in a primary care setting, such as a doctor’s office, or it may not be covered.

Play It Safe

Your last health education class may have been a long time ago. It’s important to make sure you understand how to stay safe if you are sexually active.

You may be uncomfortable discussing your sex life with your doctor. Your doctor may also be reluctant to bring the subject up. But it’s a conversation worth having. Practicing safe sex and preventing STIs are important at any age.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources

Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services: Learn what’s covered and what you’ll pay.

Medicare Part B Coverage: Get information about your Medicare medical coverage.

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

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