A Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert is advising sexually active women over age 40 to be screened for a common STD, trichomonas.
New evidence has found this infection is more than twice as common in this age group than previously believed, according to a Johns Hopkins news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls trichomoniasis the most common curable STD in young, sexually active women, with an estimated 7.4 million new cases a year in women and men.
In the Johns Hopkins study of 7,593 U.S. women ages 18 to 89, women 50 and older had the highest trichomonas infection rate at 13 percent.
Women in their 40s had the second highest infection rate at 11 percent.
Overall, the study found 8.7 percent of all women tested positive for trichomonas and infections were higher among black women of all ages.
Senior study investigator Charlotte Gaydos said trichomonas infections are treatable with antibiotics, and the high numbers of older women who are infected warrant older women being screened by their family doctors or gynecologists during routine check-ups to make sure they’re not inadvertently infecting others.
Testing is necessary because symptoms — which include liquid discharge, irritation and itching — aren’t always present with infection.
And if this STD is left untreated it can lead to severe health problems, Gaydos said. Trichomonas is also linked to co-infection with HIV, inflammation of the vagina, urethra and cervix, and pelvic inflammatory disease. And in pregnant women it can cause premature labor and low birth weights, she said.