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Medicare may pay for STD screenings for seniors

Miami Herald, August 24, 2011

Medicare may soon be paying for sexually transmitted disease screening for the elderly. Though the final decision won't be made until November, the federal healthcare agency that covers about 40 million seniors will announce a draft recommendation Wednesday. Geriatric physicians say it's about time. "The belief that seniors are not sexually active and therefore not likely to contract STDs is a misconception," says Naushira Pandya, chair of the department of geriatrics at Nova Southeastern University. "We need to start paying attention to the sexual health" of seniors. Medicare already covers HIV screening for at risk groups. Though officials for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cannot discuss a proposed rule while it's under consideration, a summary of the proposal on its website states that there is "adequate" evidence to conclude that screening for STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, is "reasonable and necessary for the prevention and early detection of an illness or disability." The screenings would be available to recipients participating in high risk behavior, which includes having multiple sex partners, not using protection or using it inconsistently, and men having sex with other men.