Updated as of: 11-28-2023

1. Sexually Transmitted Disease and Syphilis Prevalence in Assisted Living Facilities


t may come as a surprise to some that there have been increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occurring within the assisted living population. Assisted living facilities typical cater to older adults or individuals with disabilities who benefit from assistance with activities of daily living. Facilities vary in level of care and can range from more independent living to up to 24-hour medical care. Particularly, syphilis has been a major public health concern for older adults residing in these facilities. Several reasons for this increase may be that older adults are more likely to underestimate their risk of becoming infected with a STD, doctors are less likely to discuss sexual health with them, and social stigma may prevent them from seeking treatment for STD’s 


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection which is passed on during skin to skin contact with infected areas. It can also be spread from mother to baby during pregnancy. Arizona has the highest rate of congenital syphilis of all states. More information from the Pima County Health Department can be found here 

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), some of the most common symptoms of Syphilis include: 

  • painless lesion(s)  

  • fatigue  

  • swollen lymph nodes  

  • patchy hair loss, non-itchy skin rash  

  • rash on the bottoms of feet and palms of hands  


Untreated syphilis can damage your brain, nerves, eyes, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints, and in some cases, can also lead to death. Syphilis is diagnosed by blood tests by a physician at your local health clinic. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a single injection of long-acting Benzathine penicillin G can cure the early stages of syphilis. More information from the CDC website can be found here 

For older adults residing in assisted living facilities, starting the conversation about safe sex practices, including STD education, tips on how early detection of STDs and contraception use is extremely important. Health and wellness fairs and other events are great ways for older adults to get involved in their community and maintain their sexual health.  


The following are additional resources for STD prevention and treatment: 

  1. Find a clinic near you for treatment and testing on the ADHS website 

  1. Learn more about health disparities among groups affected by STDs on the Center for Disease Control website 

  1. UArizona Mobile Health Units offer free health screening assessments here. 


2.Long-COVID: The lasting impacts of COVID-19 

You may have heard the term “long-COVID” before, but what does it mean? Long-COVID, long-haul COVID, or post-COVID conditions (PCC) are the names given to the variety of symptoms people may experience after a COVID-19 infection. Symptoms of long-COVID can be ones that continue or ones that develop after COVID-19 and can last for years. These symptoms can be severe, and the US Social Security Administration reported that 80% of Americans with long-COVID symptoms are unable to return to work, leading to the current labor shortage, which negatively impacts the economy.  


Important things to know about long-COVID: 

  • Symptoms can last anywhere from weeks to months to years.  

  • People who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are more likely to develop long-COVID. 

  • Each time you have a COVID-19 infection, there is a chance of developing long-COVID. 


Long-COVID is not well understood, but some of the known symptoms include: 


  • Tiredness or fatigue  

  • Symptoms that worsen after physical or mental effort 

  • Fever 

Respiratory and heart 

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 

  • Cough 

  • Chest pain 

  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations) 


  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”) 

  • Headache 

  • Sleep problems 

  • Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness) 

  • Pins-and-needles feelings 

  • Change in smell or taste 

  • Depression or anxiety 


  • Diarrhea 

  • Stomach pain 


  • Joint or muscle pain 

  • Rash 

  • Changes in menstrual cycles 


Symptoms associated with long-COVID can be complex and difficult to explain. Some people who develop severe COVID-19, or are immunocompromised will develop new health problems after COVID-19 infection. Health care providers may complete routine tests, such as blood tests and X-rays to assess long-COVID and properly treat it.  


Tips for Prevention 

To prevent long-COVID, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated against COVID-19, including staying up-to-date on boosters and getting tested and treated for COVID-19 if necessary. If you want to learn more about accessing COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, check out our FAQ article here (Spanish link). Other steps you can take to reduce the risk of long-COVID are improving ventilation in your home, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.  



  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a printable checklist to prepare you for speaking with your healthcare provider about long-COVID, which you can access here (Spanish link). Click here (Spanish link) to learn more about long-COVID. Click here (Spanish link) if you want to learn more about caring for loved ones with long-COVID.  

  1. The National Institutes of Health sponsors the Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative to help scientists and doctors better understand and treat the effects of long-COVID in diverse populations. RECOVER is actively recruiting members to join a National Community Engagement Group, so if you or someone you know is interested in learning more, click here (Spanish link).  

  1. If symptoms associated with long-COVID substantially limits one or more major life activities, you may qualify for disability under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557. Click here to learn more (Spanish link) about eligibility and access resources.  

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