Baby boomers were the ‘free love generation’ of the 1960s and 70s. As parents, boomers discussed safe sex with their children when they were growing up. But many boomers are not heeding their own advice. Today, the free love generation is age 50+ and many are single again. They are joining the contemporary dating pool and hooking up. However, an alarming number of baby boomers are not practicing safe sex and are contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV.
This troubling trend should be a red flag for baby boomers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the baby boomer rate of contracting STDs has more than tripled the last 10 years. Plus, the Student British Medical Journal reports that the number of new HIV diagnoses in boomers doubled in the last decade.
So why are baby boomers taking such a risk? First, they may not be aware of the risk and HIV/STD prevention methods. So, many do not practice safe sex and do not use condoms. Many boomers may still be of the free love mindset.
Second, many are drug users, which puts them at high risk. The Student British Medical Journal found, in a 2010 study probing the relationship between erectile dysfunction (ED) rates and STD rates, there was a dramatic increase in STD cases in baby boomers. Ironically, the Journal notes this jump ‘coincides with Viagra's introduction in 1998.’
Third, online dating is a popular hook up venue for baby boomers. Many boomers are single again due to divorce or death of a spouse. They are using internet dating to connect with new partners and, too often, do not practice safe sex. Finally, baby boomer women are at the age where they no longer fear pregnancy so many are not using protection.
Boomers should heed the following safety tips recommended by Healthinaging.org:
- do a background check on your partner to know his or her sexual history. Determine whether the partner has ever been tested for STDs and if so get the results.
- get tested for HIV and other STDs and ask your partner to be tested as well before having sex.
- ask if he or she has ever injected illegal drugs.
- use a condom and lubricant every time you have sex until you are in a monogamous relationship and know your partner’s sexual history and status.
- talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for advice about protecting yourself from STDs.
Many boomers are enjoying an active sex life, a healthy activity as long as they practice safe sex and protect themselves from STDs and HIV.