DEAR ABBY: April is Sexually Transmitted Disease/Infection (STD/STI) Month. The good news is that many younger people pay attention to the education they have received and are more likely to use protection when having sex.
The troubling news is, one of the fastest-growing groups of people contracting and spreading STDs/STIs is senior citizens. Some blame medications for erectile dysfunction; others blame midlife divorces and online dating sites. The biggest factor is lack of education. When seniors were growing up, they had to think about only two STDs. Today there are many more.
Back then, the “worst” thing that could happen if you had unprotected sex was that you could get pregnant. Now, because many are past menopause, that risk factor is gone, so they don’t use condoms. And the STDs and STIs rage on. Many seniors won’t talk to their doctors about their sexual activity, and — worse — many doctors don’t bring up the subject because they feel uncomfortable or mistakenly assume older people don’t engage in sexual activity. Please, Abby, urge your older readers to get tested for STDs/STIs. — EDWARD SALKO, D.O., FORT MYERS, FLA.
DEAR DR. SALKO: I long for the days when the only things people associated April with were paying taxes and the rain that would bring May flowers. But enough about ancient history.
Readers, if you are sexually active — and this applies to those of you from your teens to your 90s — for your own sake as well as that of your partner, use a condom every time unless you and your partner have been tested for STDs and know with certainty that neither of you has one. Not everyone who has an STD is aware of it — and you can’t tell by looking at someone whether that person is infected.
DEAR ABBY: I work with a woman who talks to dragonflies and believes she was abducted by aliens. She’s one of those people who come across as sweet and caring, but complain and gossip behind your back. I work in close proximity to her and must interact with her daily. I can’t stand her, yet she relentlessly tries to “befriend” me regardless of how hard I try to make it clear I’m not interested.
Recently there was a fire in my home and our family was left with nothing. Miss “X” offered me her deceased mother’s dinner set. I felt awkward accepting it, but because she told me it made her feel good to spread parts of her mother around, I accepted. Now I regret accepting it because she thinks I’m indebted to her, and she makes my life miserable trying to engage me in mindless conversations during work.
Abby, I thanked her for the dinner set at the time she gave it to me. How long do I have to pretend to like her? — NOT INTERESTED
DEAR NOT INTERESTED: You always have to be polite and considerate, because that’s common courtesy. A way to handle this would be for you to return the dinner set to Miss “X,” thanking her warmly for “lending” it to you in your time of need. (I assume you have the means to buy one now.) And when she tries to engage you in personal conversations, tell her kindly but firmly that you have a lot of work to do and no time to talk.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.