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Seniors' Sex Lives Are Up — and So Are STD Cases Around the Country

Infections especially high in states with many retirees

Across the nation, and especially in communities that attract a lot of older Americans, the free-love generation is continuing to enjoy an active — if not always healthy — sex life.

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At a stage in life when many would expect sexually transmitted diseases to be waning, aging baby boomers are once again busting stereotypes, setting records and breaking rules.

In the five years from 2005 to 2009, the number of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among those 55 and older increased 43 percent, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the Sunbelt where retirees have formed large communities, the rise was even more dramatic.

For instance, in Arizona's Maricopa and Pima counties — home to large retirement communities just outside Phoenix — the percent of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia increased twice as fast as the national average from 2005 to 2009. Reported cases were up 87 percent among those 55 and older in those counties.

In Central Florida, where The Villages and other retirement communities sprawl across several counties, reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia increased 71 percent among those 55 and older in that same period. And South Florida saw a 60 percent rise in those two sexually transmitted infections among the same age group, according to the Florida Department of Health.

In Riverside County, Calif., home to retirement mecca Palm Springs, reported cases were up 50 percent over the five-year span, according to data from that county's health department.

The reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among older adults outpaced the nation's average, according to the analysis. Among all age groups nationwide, reported cases of syphilis increased 60 percent between 2005 and 2009, while in the 55 to 64 age group it increased 70 percent. Meanwhile, the incidences of chlamydia rose 27 percent among all ages, and double that among those age 55 to 64.

As a result of the national trend among seniors, Medicare is considering providing coverage for STD screenings for seniors. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid office announced that it was looking into adding STD exams to the national health-insurance program, which already pays for HIV screenings. Medicare also is weighing the benefits of paying for behavioral counseling for sexually active seniors.

Next: Why STD rates are on the rise. >>

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