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Older Women at Greater Risk for Common STD, Study Suggests
Date:7/12/2011

TUESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- The sexually transmitted disease trichomoniasis may be much more common among older women than those in their 20s, and researchers are recommending routine screening for sexually active women aged 40 and older.

"We usually think of STDs as more prevalent in young people, but our study results clearly show that with [trichomoniasis], while too many young people have it, even more, older women are infected," said the study's senior study investigator, Charlotte Gaydos, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a university news release.

Trichomoniasis (commonly known as "trich") is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The World Health Organization estimates that 173 million people worldwide become infected every year.

The study, slated for presentation Tuesday at the annual meeting of the International Society for STD Research in Quebec City, Canada, also revealed that black women were more than three times as likely to be infected as whites (20 percent vs. 5.7 percent). The study authors speculated that differences in income, education and employment could explain this disparity.

The infection is easily cleared up with antibiotics. If left untreated, however, trichomoniasis can lead to severe health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or complications during pregnancy, such as premature labor.

In studying 7,593 U.S. women 18 to 89 years old across 28 states, the researchers found that 8.7 percent tested positive for trichomoniasis, but the STD was more prevalent among older women. Thirteen percent of women 50 and older had the parasite, and women in their 40s trailed closely behind with an 11 percent infection rate, the study found.

Women in their 20s, on the other hand, had
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