The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

U.S. may pay for sex disease tests for elderly: Should taxpayers pony up?

seniors, elderly couple, bed, happy, sex, erectile dysfunction
seniors, elderly couple, bed, happy, sex, erectile dysfunction

(CBS) If granny gets gonorrhea or gramps gets sick with syphilis, who should foot the bill to test them?

Taxpayers should pay. At least that's what federal health authorities seem to think.

They're considering expanding the Medicare program to cover the cost of testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among elderly people, Reuters reported.

Medicare already covers testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. If the planned changes go through - a decision is expected by August 24 - the federal health insurance program will cover testing for a range of other sexually transmitted diseases, including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Along with almost eight million disabled people, Reuters reported, Medicare covers nearly 39 million people age 65 or older. How many are sexually active?

More than you might imagine.

A recent survey of sexual attitudes and behaviors of among Americans 57 to 85 years of age found that most consider sexuality an important part of life, according to a written statement released in conjunction with the survey.

And that's not just talk. The survey, published in the August 23, 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine," found that people have sex almost as frequently when they get old as when they were younger. Well into their 70s and 80s, people are having vaginal intercourse and oral sex.