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Increasing Awareness of Communicable Diseases through Outreach and Organization at the West Philadelphia Senior Center. Christina Roberts, Faisal Yayah, Randy Sell, ScD and Shonta Collins, RN, BSN, MPA, MSN-FNPc Explorers Sans Frontieres. Problem Statement. Approach. Findings. Implications.

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Increasing Awareness of Communicable Diseases through

Outreach and Organization at the West Philadelphia Senior Center

Christina Roberts, Faisal Yayah, Randy Sell, ScD and Shonta Collins, RN, BSN, MPA, MSN-FNPc

Explorers Sans Frontieres

Problem Statement




  • The data shows that the members of the WPSC are seeing their physicians on a regular basis. 85% of the members saw a physician for a regular check up in the last 5 years, with over 60% seeing a physician in the last year.
  • Despite the diligence taken to go a physician on a regular basis, 67% of sexually active members reported that their health care provider had never engaged them in discussions about STI wellness.
  • Additionally, although sexually active members perceived themselves as being knowledgeable about STIs and acknowledging they are still relevant to their community, members are not likely to initiate conversation about STI education or prevention with their health care provider.

1. To assess the knowledge elderly adults in our community possessed, a pre-assessment survey was developed to gauge the knowledge, perceived risk and possible barriers to health education related to sexually transmitted infections (figure A). This assessment would form the baseline for developing a workshop for educating sexually active elderly adults on sexually transmitted diseases.

2. The survey assessment was then administered at the West

Philadelphia Senior Center to members of the community located in a zip code that is among the highest rates for STI and HIV infections.

3. Survey assessment answers were then entered into Excel and imported into Statistical Analysis Software. Responses were then analyzed for level of perceived knowledge, perceived risk and Health care provider- patient communication. This information was then passed on to the health educator, Terri Clark from Action AIDS, for the STI workshop.

The workshop was presented to the members of the West Philadelphia Community Center by Terri Clark.

5. A post assessment was administered immediately after the workshop using the same survey as the pre assessment. Data from the surveys were entered into Excel and then imported into Statistical Analysis Software

  • 77% Knowledgeable about STIs
  • Roughly 75% Comfortable Talking with their peers
  • 70% acknowledged that STIs are still relevant to their community

Infections in elderly patients are a major medical problem. Statistics from the WHO suggest that, in Europe and the United States, ∼5% of the population >60 years old will die as a consequence of infection. Currently, Adults 65 years or older (elderly adults) account for a disproportionate share of patients infected with communicable disease related hospitalizations and all-cause hospitalizations in the United States. In addition this disproportionate rate is expected to rise as the number of older adults is expected to increase from 35 million in 2000 to 69 million by 2030, accounting for approximately one fifth of the total U.S. population.

Particularly of concern in this population is the rise of sexually transmitted infections (STI). New research, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that both chlamydia and syphilis levels increased amongst elderly adults. Between 2005 and 2009 these STIs became 60% more common with the number of reported cases of syphilis and chlamydia among those 55 and older increased 43 percent. The rates at which syphilis and chlamydia increased among older adults outpaced the nation's average. Among all age groups nationwide, reported cases of syphilis increased 60 percent between 2005 and 2009; among those in the 55 to 64 age group, it went up 70 percent. Meanwhile, the incidence of chlamydia rose 27 percent among all ages, and double that among the older group. It is necessary to address this epidemic among elderly populations with the increasing rise of infection rates.

Figure 1 Condom use amongst members that are sexually active. Data from Pre Assessment Survey

Figure 2 Likelihood of members initiating STI education and prevention conversation with health care provider. Data From Pre-Assessment Survey.

No Post Assessment Analysis could be conducted due to incomplete record keeping.

Figure 3 STI education reinforcement by Health Care providers amongst members that are sexually active

Data From Pre-Assessment Survey.

Figure 4 Sexually Active Members that have seen Health Care Providers in the last 5 years.

Data From Pre-Assessment Survey



A Workshop Conducted by Health Educator Terri Clark was held at the West Philadelphia Community Center. There were 15 members in attendance.

After correction of some experimental errors, this study has the potential to yield extremely valuable results on the topic of STI awareness in the senior citizen community. The experiment is highly sustainable in that it is an assessment of how knowledgeable elderly adults about sexually transmitted disease, their perceived risk of being infected and possible barriers for raising awareness. The experiment can be continued in at other senior centers across Philadelphia metropolitan area.


With the national rates of STIs and HIV/AIDS cases in the senior community on the rise, it is necessary to assess and increase the awareness of STI and HIV prevention in this active population. The West Philadelphia Senior Center is located in one the highest areas for reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. Our goal is to increase the understanding of STI/ HIV, raise the awareness of STI/HIV threat to the community and promote safe sex methods to prevent infections.

Figure A. Assessment Survey used to evaluate barriers in gaps in knowledge and/or access to care related to Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Demographics of Pre Assessment:

29 Total participants

48% (14) Black

3% (1) Hispanic

41% (12) White **

3% (1) Other

Figure 5 Event Flyer and Game. Bingo used to actively engage participants into a healthy discussion about STI awareness and prevention

  • Acknowledgements
  • The West Philadelphia Community Center
  • Action AIDS

65% (19) Female

34% (10) Male

Figure 6 Pictures From Workshop. Photographed from left to right. Faisal Yayah and Christina Roberts Setting up Workshop. Participating members playing Bingo. Helen Rayon , Terri Clark, Christina Roberts, Faisal Yayah.