July 31, 2011

KOREA: One in 10 elderly have unsafe sex

SEOUL, Korea / The Korea Times / Nation / July 31, 2011

By Lee Hyo-sik

One in 10 Korean men aged over 60 is found to have bought sex at least once but many do not use condoms nor engage in other safe sex practices, exposing themselves to a range of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).

In a survey of 1,804 senior citizens aged over 60 (816 men and 988 women), the Urology Department at St. Vincent’s Hospital, affiliated with the Catholic University of Korea, said four tested positive for syphilis and 14 were diagnosed with Chlamydia.

Illustration: koreabridge.com
The average age of those examined was 64.6 years-old and they resided in Seoul and other urban areas. The findings were published in the latest issue of Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy. Prof. Lee Seung-joo and Prof. Choi Hyun-seob of the hospital’s Urology Department coauthored the paper.

About 26.2 percent of the respondents said they did not use condoms at all while engaging in sexual intercourse, with 28.6 percent employing the most common safe-sex practice occasionally. Around 10.6 percent of elderly men said they had sex with prostitutes at least once over the past year.

The study also found that 78.2 percent of respondents had not previously taken STD tests, meaning Korea’s elderly population is not adequately aware of the importance of safe sex or their vulnerability to STDs. About 37.5 percent said they or their partners have taken Viagra or other performance enhancing drugs.

“With the rising life expectancy and improving health conditions, a growing number of senior citizens are seeking an active sex life,” Prof. Choi said. “But there are only a few studies concerning the sexuality of the elderly, making it difficult for medical professionals to adequately understand pending issues on sexual health of the aged.”

He said the STD contraction rates among Korean elderly are not as high as those of other countries. “Given that an increasing number of senior citizens are engaging prostitutes, the government should make greater efforts to increase the awareness about the risks of unprotected sex and properly treat senior citizens infected with STDs,” Choi said.

According to the health ministry, the number of venereal disease cases among those aged over 65 increased to 64,000 in 2009, up from 44,000 in 2007. They accounted for 5.5 percent of the total VD patients in 2009, up from 4 percent three years ago.

Copyright: The Korea Times
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