More elderly women in South Korea catching sexually transmitted diseases

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The number of elderly South Korean women who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases (STD) increased significantly from 2010 to 2014 as life expectancy rises, a report showed on Tuesday.

The report, published by private think tank Pharmscore, analysed government data on STD patients who sought help at medical institutions over the last five years.

According to the findings, the number of women aged 80 or older who were treated for an STD increased by an average of 21.6 per cent yearly - from 662 to 1,447 cases - between 2010 and 2014.

Meanwhile, the number of male STD patients aged 80 or older increased only by an average of 8.8 per cent yearly in the same period, from 408 to 572 cases.

Last year, a total of 393,025 Koreans in all age groups were treated for STDs. The number of patients increased by 5.5 per cent from the year before. Among the patients, 73.9 per cent were women. The largest number of patients were in their 30s, followed by those in their 20s and 40s.

Researcher Choi Seong Gyu from Pharmscore said more elderly Koreans are becoming sexually active partly because of higher life expectancy and accessible medication that treats erectile dysfunction.

"But it seems that not many of them are aware of how to protect themselves and their partners against STDs," he said.

"Women aged 80 or older also have a weak immune system (and therefore are more vulnerable to the diseases)."