a publication of the sexuality and aging consortium at widener university

NY Times Comments on Seniors and STIs; Consortium Responds

On Jan. 18, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece in its Sex and the Single Senior column that highlighted an increase in cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among older adults. The author used the term “startling” to describe the statistic that in 2011 and 2012, 2.2 million Medicare beneficiaries received free STI screenings and counseling sessions, and more than 66,000 received free H.I.V. tests. The number of Medicare enrollees who had free STI tests nears the number who received free colonoscopies to screen for colon cancer — about 5 percent of all Medicare enrollees.

We submitted the following response to the piece:

Sex and the Single Senior (NY Times, Jan. 18, 2014) noted as “startling” the fact that in 2011 and 2012, about 5 percent of all Medicare enrollees received free screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Rather than be startled, the Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University encourages more older adults to attend to their sexual health needs in this manner.
The Consortium is a national, non-profit organization that educates older adults and the professionals who serve them about their rights to sexuality education, sexual expression, and sexual healthcare, including education and treatment related to STIs. We provide sexuality education directly to older adults, and we offer needs assessment, policy development, and staff training for senior-serving organizations, long-term care facilities, and senior communities. The biggest challenge we face is to help constituents recognize the value of investing in education and training. Government funding for older-adult sexuality education and professional development would be enormously helpful in improving the sexual health – and in turn, the general health and wellness – of a rapidly expanding older adult population.
Melanie Davis, PhD, CSE and Robin Goldberg-Glen, PhD, MSW
Co-Presidents, Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University
Chester, PA

Sexual health is one of the many areas Consortium members consult on and advocate for. To learn more about engaging our members’ services, bringing a speaker to an upcoming event, or joining our effort as a member, sponsor or benefactor, please contact us.

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