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As STD rates for seniors soar, a new PSA campaign encourages children and grandchildren to discuss safe sex with their single parents and grandparents.

Massachusetts General Hospital and CBS Cares collaborate to encourage safe sex among sexually active senior citizens.

28/May/2014

Massachusetts General Hospital and CBS Cares have joined together to create a public service campaign aimed at encouraging sexually active senior citizens to engage in safe sex, while also encouraging children and grandchildren to discuss safe sex with their single parents and grandparents.

The 60-second public service announcement, which launches in June, will air on CBS Radio’s 126 major-market stations across the country. The campaign will also be promoted internally and externally by Mass General Hospital. The message involves a candid phone conversation between a college-aged daughter and her mother, in which the daughter probes for the details of her grandmother’s relationship with a “younger” man of 78.

Valerie Smaldone, a five-time Billboard Magazine Award winner, is the voice of the mother; actress Elise Kibler plays the role of the daughter; and Alan Kalter of “The Late Show with David Letterman” issues the call to action.

To hear the radio PSA and to learn more, click here.

This campaign continues CBS Cares’ award-winning strategy of using humor to connect with audiences on serious underlying health issues. This strategy was developed when medical experts, including some from Mass General, conveyed concern that the public has tuned out of traditional health messages.

“Mass General continues to be a tremendous advisor of CBS Cares – we benefit immensely from the hospital’s medical expertise and value the fact that Mass. General never hesitates to tackle stigmatized health issues that affect the lives of many,” said Matthew Margo, senior vice president, Program Practices for the CBS Television Network. “We recognize that the subject of safe sex for seniors may be a bit awkward for some children and grandchildren. But age doesn’t confer immunity from STDs, and we hope that this PSA will boost awareness of the health risks to seniors and motivate their families to have ‘the chat.’”

Geriatric social worker Barbara Moscowitz, MSW, LICSW, program director of Mass General Geriatric Medicine Unit, called the PSA innovative and important. “This PSA tackles one of the greatest and most tragic myths of becoming older: that older individuals no longer seek love, companionship and intimacy,” Moscowitz said. “What is true for this generation, however, is the reality that they were not raised in an era in which STD education was as prevalent as is it now. Anything that begins dialogue is beneficial – this PSA normalizes that conversation.”

Several years ago, Mass General joined with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in sounding the alarm about the increasing rate of STDs among sexually active single seniors. A 2010 Mass General/Harvard Medical School study suggested that men over 50 years of age were six times less likely to use protection compared with men in their 20s.  

Mass General launched its relationship with CBS Cares several years ago when Margo asked Isaac Schiff, MD, chief of the MGH Vincent Obstetrics & Gynecology Service and Joe Vincent Meigs Professor of Gynecology at Harvard Medical School, to help create what soon became a much-acclaimed PSA about menopause.

“Mass General is honored to be part of an extensive list of respected organizations that have worked with CBS to produce health PSAs that not only make a big difference but also bring attention to issues often overlooked by the media,” Schiff said. “These CBS Cares PSAs are powerful – and entertaining – educational tools.”

About Massachusetts General Hospital:
Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital (www.massgeneral.org) is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The 950-bed medical center each year admits approximately 48,500 inpatients, handles more than 1.5 million visits to its extensive outpatient programs at the main campus and four health centers, and records more than 95,500 emergency visits. The surgical staff performs more than 41,000 operations annually, and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers almost 3,700 babies a year. The largest nongovernment employer in the city of Boston, the MGH has more than 24,500 employees, including more than 4,100 registered nurses.  MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $775 million.  MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital are founding members of Partners HealthCare System, a Boston-based integrated health care delivery system.

About CBS Cares:
At the heart of CBS’s public service commitment is the multiple award-winning CBS Cares campaign, which consists of PSAs created by CBS and which usually feature talent from a wide array of CBS Television Network programming. These PSAs have addressed numerous causes including a number of health issues that impact the lives of millions of viewers. Some PSAs refer viewers to the award-winning CBSCares.tv website, which was described by the Harvard School of Public Health upon its launch as a “breakthrough website” for the depth of its health information.

Media Contacts: Cassandra Aviles, (617) 724-6433, cmaviles@partners.org

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