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Sexually active seniors facing increased risk of STDs

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When you think of unsafe sex, the image that comes to mind is not necessarily that of senior citizens. But according to the CDC, in some instances the rates of STD infection for people over 65 rivals that of people in their 20s.

“Everybody always talks about the joke of going to The Villages, and the Senior STD rate being so high there," says fourth year med student Cody Davis, who visited a friend’s grandmother at famed central Florida retirement community The Villages.

"They're at a constant senior spring break sort of thing, so they're always partying and who knows what's going on there, but their STD rate for seniors is very high in The Villages," Davis says.

The Villages considers itself “Florida's Friendliest Retirement Hometown,” maybe even a little too friendly -- but there's no denying that seniors are having sex.

"There's the effect of Viagra, which is extending the sexual activity of many men," Davis says.

But when it comes to STDs?

"I think that it's not something they think about, they don't worry about sexually transmitted diseases," Davis says.

There's more concern about chronic health problems, says OB/GYN, Dr. Thomas Vest. Seniors think STDs only affect the young, he adds, but they are just as much at risk.

"[Seniors can contract] Herpes, HIV, and serious Human Pappiloma infections, which will lead to cancer," Dr. Vest says.

According to says Dr Lisa Merritt, what we’re seeing is an aging population that is staying sexually active longer but isn’t necessarily accustomed to the changing morays of today's society. Dr. Merritt says these people require greater protection and awareness.

"If you go to the Florida Department of Health website or the Centers for Disease Control, you would notice an alarming trend," Dr. Merritt says. "Thirty-five percent of HIV cases are now on people 50 years and older."

Watch Alix Redmonde’s full report on Senior STDs from Your Suncoast News: