The top 5 causes for an increase in STDs at assisted living facilities

Pre-exposure prophylaxis services include STI testing and treatment as a tool to gauge how often users engage in unprotected sex and take sexual risks. Picture: Pexels

Pre-exposure prophylaxis services include STI testing and treatment as a tool to gauge how often users engage in unprotected sex and take sexual risks. Picture: Pexels

Published Jul 18, 2023


It appears that retirement communities may not be as boring as first thought. The idea of an old relative getting it on in a retirement home may be a little unsettling for many people.

Several common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis, have reached historic highs among elderly populations in the United States and around the world, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report from the Centres for Disease Control Africa (CDC).

STIs are primarily transmitted through sexual contact, as their name suggests. Infections can spread during oral, anal, and vaginal sex as well as through non-sexual ways, such as from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth.

According to the World Health Organization, incidence of STIs among persons 65 and older has more than doubled between 2010 and 2020. This trend is beginning to be seen throughout the rest of the country.

In these communities, STIs are rapidly growing among the elderly and are becoming a bigger concern for both healthcare providers and the families of those patients.

Fair enough, the national STI rate was higher to begin with.

STIs can seriously harm a person's sexual, reproductive, and overall health. They may also result in a number of difficulties. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea, if left untreated, can harm reproductive organs and result in long-term consequences like infertility.

If certain STIs like syphilis are not treated, or if they develop consequences like pelvic inflammatory disease in the case of chlamydia, people may even pass away.

The risk of HIV infection and transmission is increased by STIs, which makes the situation worse. This is due to a concentration of ‘’activated’’ immune cells in the affected area as a result of the body's reaction, which is intended to aid in the battle against the sexually transmitted virus. HIV can thus easily replicate and spread within the ‘’activated’’ immune cells.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), South Africa has a high prevalence of STIs and 7.9 million persons living with HIV in 2018. In the wake of the global pandemic, the number has only grown rapidly.

The NICD estimates that among women between the ages of 15 and 49, there were 2.3 million new cases of gonorrhoea, 1.9 million new chlamydia infections, and 23,175 new cases of syphilis in 2018.

There were 2.2 million new instances of gonorrhoea, 3.9 million new cases of chlamydia, and 47,500 new cases of syphilis among men of the same age.

More and more senior citizens are engaging in sexual activity. It might not seem likely that an institution like a nursing home would be a haven for STIs. However, an STI outbreak in nursing homes is now also a problem in assisted living and even independent living facilities, making it more than just a concern.

HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea, and other illnesses, including Shigella and meningococcal disease, which are spread by contact, are the most prevalent STIs among senior populations.

Why do STIs frequently occur in elderly homes?

It's human nature for people over a certain age to feel as though they are in the home stretch of the race. Moreover, even though age is simply a number, it is still beneficial to live life to the utmost. Male and female senior members who were single would frequently participate in sexual behaviour without giving it any thought.

As a result, inquiries regarding medical history never stop. Because of this, large senior care facilities in the US and around the world are seeing a sharp rise in the number of STIs among older residents of nursing homes.

What are the ways that infections spread in nursing homes?

Because the transmission of the virus is frequently unregulated, the rate of STDs in nursing homes is relatively high. You see, adolescents and young adults learn about safe sex early in life. However, while elderly folks are aware of what has to be done, it is typically not brought up in conversation with them.

According to reports, older persons are more forthcoming about their sexual behaviour, including experimentation, especially in senior living communities.

Even if a person is aware that they have an STI, they choose to conceal it for fear of social rejection or the stigma. As a result, during the past few years, the rate of STI infection in these facilities has quickly increased.

It is always best to understand the infection's logic and the reasons it is spreading. The top 5 causes of STIs in nursing homes in 2022 have been compiled by BoomersHub.

Misinformation and misconceptions

Many senior citizens believe that because they do not have to worry about getting pregnant, they can engage in unprotected sexual activity. However, STIs can infect people of any age.

There was hardly much sex education before. Because of this, many seniors are misinformed about the nature of protected sexual activity and the transmission of STIs.


Some elderly people may delay getting tested and receiving treatment by going to medical professionals because they feel embarrassed to have STDs or other sexually transmitted diseases at this stage in their lives. If they engage in sexual activity while doing this, they may infect others.

Erectile dysfunction medicine for men

Their libido can be increased by medications like Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis, which can also help them establish and maintain sexual relationships.

By doing this, many men and women who previously couldn't have sex due to erectile dysfunction can continue to engage in sexual activity and could perhaps expose their partners to STDs.

Medicine for women

To boost their libido, women may also use medicines like Addyi and Vyleesi. Some possibilities for women to continue having sex after menopause include vaginal oestrogen, oestrogen hormone replacement, moisturisers, and lubricants. But each of these may contribute to the spread of STDs.

Physical well-being

As people age, their immune systems deteriorate, increasing their risk of contracting STDs. Thinning and dryness of the vaginal tissues are common symptoms for post-menopausal women. The virus is more likely to enter the body when the tissues are thinner during sex.

STIs among senior people have long been a source of worry. The usage of prophylactic measures like condoms significantly declines as the population ages and experiences menopause and andropause.

Researchers are increasingly concerned about the possible rates of senior populations catching HIV, which can be quickly fatal for those with an already compromised immune system, as older populations also have a tendency to underestimate their risk of contracting STIs.