Elderly And Disabled STD Testing Considered By Medicare And Medicaid Services

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Main Category: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Also Included In: Sexual Health / STDs;  Seniors / Aging
Article Date: 26 Feb 2011 – 13:00 PST

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Apart from already covering beneficiaries for HIV tests, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service) says it is considering whether to cover screenings for other STDs, such as chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B, and gonorrhea. CMS is also considering paying for preventive counseling.

In the USA approximately 39 million elderly people and 7.6 million younger individuals with disabilities are covered by Medicare.
In a communiqué, CMS says its focus would be on detecting STDs in pregnant disabled women and other high-risk groups.

CMS officials should announce a draft decision by 24th August, 2011.

A National Coverage Analysis would like to see cover for the following:

  • Counseling for all sexually active teenagers and adults at high risk
  • Testing for chlamydia for high risk women over the age of 24, as well as all women under 24 who are sexually active
  • Testing for gonorrhea for all females
  • Testing for syphilis for all high risk individuals
  • Testing pregnant women for hepatitis B

According to data gathered through various public bodies, the incidence of STDs among older Americans has been going up. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), almost one-quarter of Americans who are HIV positive are aged over 50 years. Chlamydia rates among men aged between 45 and 64 went up about 200% during the ten-year period up to the end of 2006 (doubled among females).

According to experts, there are several reasons why older individuals are at risk of developing STDs:

  • A significant number are sexually active. Erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra, Levitra and Cyalis have allowed a considerable number of older males to continue being sexually active. Studies have shown that STD rates among males using Viagra are double those of males who do not.
  • Older people are less inclined to use condoms compared to younger sexually active people
  • STD-prevention educational programs rarely include the elderly

Experts say that screening and preventive care should work out much cheaper in the long run. If patients are detected and treated early on, the risk of expensive complications is reduced considerably. Early detection would also help curb the spread of STDs.

Written by Christian Nordqvist

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