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Canadian Boomers Are Getting Frisky - And Risky

New Canadian Liver Foundation Poll Finds Canadian Boomers Have Active Sex Lives, But Many Aren't Playing it Safe

Toronto, ON - October 5, 2010 - They've talked about the birds and they've talked about the bees. But, according to a new survey from the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF), baby boomers (ages 46 to 64) aren't following the sound advice they once gave their children and are putting themselves at risk in the process.

While almost three quarters of Canadian boomers with children in their household (70 per cent) counsel their kids to use protection during sex, 16 per cent admit they don't always take their own advice. Leading the charge are unmarried boomers, with nearly a third (30 per cent) saying they've had unprotected sex with a new partner since turning 40.

Boomers are facing a lot of changes at this point in their lives - be it kids leaving the nest or being newly single - but they're not letting it hold them back. More than half of boomers surveyed (57 per cent) feel freer now that they are older and the vast majority (82 per cent) believe it's important to have an active sex life at every age.

Canadian boomers are also experimenting with bold new dating styles - whether it's seeking less serious relationships (28 per cent), being more open to a one night stand (23 per cent), or trying their hand at online dating (41 per cent). More than one in 10 boomers (14 per cent) say they like taking more risks now that they're older. Since turning 40, many boomers have gotten or are considering getting a tattoo (20 per cent) or piercing (eight per cent).

"Boomers definitely have a new-found zest for life - but it's important they use it safely and wisely," says Dr. Morris Sherman, Chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation. "Many have been out of the dating scene for a while and need to realize there are new risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and proper precautions should be taken."

Getting Serious About STIs
One in five boomers (20 per cent) say they use condoms less now that pregnancy is not as much of a concern. While pregnancy risk is reduced as female partners' age, boomers don't seem to realize that STIs are not age-discriminate. More than half of all boomers (56 per cent) say they're not worried about contracting any STIs and 30 per cent of unmarried boomers aren't worried.

For those who are concerned about STIs, some diseases are lower on their radar - like hepatitis. When asked which STIs they're most worried about contracting, unmarried boomers place HIV/AIDS (56 per cent), herpes (30 per cent), and syphilis (17 per cent) in their top three. Hepatitis B was lower on the list, with only 14 per cent concerned about contracting it. Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease spread through exposure to infected bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions or saliva. It is significantly more infectious than HIV and there are approximately 10 times as many people with chronic hepatitis B in Canada as there are with HIV.i Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide and the consequences also include jaundice, extreme fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and other health issues.

"Boomers need to learn from their teenage years and realize they're not immortal," says Dr. Sherman. "Assuming that contracting a disease like hepatitis B can't happen to them is a mistake, especially when there are simple precautionary measures they can take."

The Power of Protection
When it comes to STIs, the most basic way to stay protected is using a condom. But, what else can you do? In the case of hepatitis B, vaccination is the best way to help protect yourself from contracting the virus through sex or through other known or unknown risks of exposure like getting a tattoo or piercing where inadequately sterilized instruments are used. Only 39 per cent of Canadian boomers surveyed said they were vaccinated against hepatitis B.

"Canadians should consider getting vaccinated against hepatitis B to reduce the risk of contracting this serious liver disease," says Dr. Sherman. "Today in Canada, because of infant and school immunization, new cases are more likely to be in adults and can be the result of unprotected sex, or from tattoos and piercings where improperly sterilized equipment is used. What's alarming is that in many cases, the cause may be unknown. To protect yourself against the risk factors you can identify and those you can't, it makes sense to get immunized."

About Viral Hepatitis in Canada
Hepatitis A, B and C are liver diseases with potentially serious consequences. People often confuse the risk factors for these three diseases and do not realize that only two - hepatitis A and B - are preventable by vaccine.

The hepatitis A virus is contracted by consuming contaminated food or drink and can be passed along by infected food service workers in a restaurant or grocery store, or by those who handle produce along the supply chain.ii Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months and typical symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, fever, and jaundice. The disease can be quite debilitating, causing missed days or weeks of work in healthy adults. Severe cases of hepatitis A may require hospitalization and serious complications can include death in the elderly or those whose immune system is compromised.

In Canada, between 1990 and 2004 the number of reported hepatitis A cases varied from over 3,500 to less than 400. Due to asymptomatic infection, underdiagnosis and underreporting, the actual number of hepatitis A cases in Canada is estimated to be 10 times higher than the reported cases.iii Only 38 per cent of boomers surveyed reported being vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B is significantly more infectious than HIViv and hepatitis B-associated liver disease kills an estimated 600,000 people worldwide each year.v There are two forms of hepatitis B: acute and chronic.

Chronic hepatitis B infections can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer,vi or liver failure, all of which can lead to death. Many people who become infected don't experience symptoms right away, so they may unknowingly pass the virus on to others like friends and family. Symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and jaundice. Hepatitis B is a very common disease worldwide and in many countries is mostly passed from mother to child. There are approximately 300,000 Canadians with chronic hepatitis B, and in 2008 the overall reported rate of acute hepatitis B infection in Canada was 0.74 (individuals infected) per 100,000 people living in Canada.vii Hepatitis B is the world's leading cause of primary liver cancer,viii causing up to 80 per cent of liver cancer worldwide

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus and is spread through direct contact with the blood of an infected person. People most at risk are those who have received tattoos or body piercings with non-sterile equipment, who use (or have experimented with) injection drugs, or who received blood transfusions before 1990. Hepatitis C is not preventable by vaccine. There are an estimated 250,000 Canadians with chronic hepatitis C and between 3,200 and 5,000 individuals are newly infected with the hepatitis C virus each year.x

Canadians don't realize it, but they make decisions every day that can have positive or negative effects on their liver. Getting educated about liver disease is a good first step to being liver healthy. For more information on all forms of hepatitis, how to protect yourself and your family and how to help those living with hepatitis, visit the Canadian Liver Foundation at

About The Canadian Liver Foundation

The CLF is a national charity committed to promoting liver health and reducing the incidence and impact of all forms of liver disease by supporting education and research into causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment. Through its LIVERight (pronounced 'live right') campaign, the CLF wants to make liver health a priority for each and every Canadian - including individuals, health care professionals, government and industry. Over the past 40 years, the CLF has invested $20 million dollars in liver research and education in Canada.

Survey Methodology Leger Marketing surveyed 877 Canadian baby boomers (ages 46 to 64). The online survey was conducted from July 19 - 23, 2010. This method simulates a probability sample which would yield a maximum margin of error of +/-3.3%, 19 times out of 20. This project was supported through an unrestricted educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline.


For more information please contact:

Jaclyn Crawford / David Mircheff
Environics Communications
416-969-2728 / 416-969-2776 /

Melanie Kearns
Canadian Liver Foundation


i Leber, A. & Sherman, M. The modeled prevalence of chronic hepatitis B in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2008.

ii Fiore AE. Hepatitis A transmitted by food. Clin Infect Dis 2004;38:705–715.

iii Public Health Agency of Canada, Vaccine Preventable Diseases. Accessed
April 16, 2008.

iv Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention and Control of Infections with Hepatitis Viruses in Correctional Settings.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52(RR-1):1-36.

v World Health Organization, Hepatitis B Fact Sheet. Available on-line at:,

vi Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis B. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 8th ed.
Atlanta, Ga. 2004.

vii Public Health Agency of Canada, Hepatitis B: Get the Facts. Available online at:

viii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis B. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 8th ed.
Atlanta, Ga: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2005:191-212

ix Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis B. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 8th ed.
Atlanta, Ga: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2005:191-212

x Public Health Agency of Canada, Hepatitis C: Get the Facts.
You Can Have it and Not know it.

"Reproduced with permission - Canadian Liver Foundation"

Canadian Liver Foundation


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