and Older Adults

 
        

HIV is increasingly affecting adults age 50 and over. With the help of antiretroviral therapy (ART), people are living longer and healthier lives. There is also an increase in new diagnoses among this population. There is an accepted assumption amongst the younger population that once a person reaches 50 years old, they are no longer sexually active. Healthcare providers are less likely to discuss safer sex practices and HIV/AIDS prevention with older adults. Likewise, older adults are less likely to talk about their sexual practices, and possible drug use with their healthcare providers. Some older adults also assume that once they are past childbearing years, there is no need to use protection. Both statements are untrue and have helped contribute to the increased infection rates amongst the older population.

 
 

Also contributing to the increase of HIV among older adults is the lack of knowledge about the disease. Younger populations learn about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in school, where older adults did not have the same education regarding prevention and transmission. There are age-related risks as well. In women over 50, vaginal thinning or drying leads to tearing that makes it easier for the virus to be transmitted during sexual intercourse. There are also the expected health concerns such as a weaker immune system. This generation was already into adulthood when HIV/AIDS first came into the public arena, and the fear and stigma surrounding the disease are not easily forgotten. For more information regarding older adults and HIV/AIDS please visit www.CDC.gov or www.AIDS.gov.

Get Tested- Know your status! 

It is important for everyone to know their HIV status. People  who are sexually active, especially those with multiple sex partners, should be tested regularly. In the United States, 20% of people who are unaware of their status are responsible for about 40-70% of all new infections annually. Receiving treatment sooner rather than later results in clinical benefits for the individual and a potentially enormous public health benefit by slowing the spread of infection. Knowing your status is the first step in ending the epidemic.

There are multiple tests available on the market today. New technology allows for rapid testing and quick results. Individuals can receive follow-up care and enter treatment as soon as possible. Counselors are available at testing sites to help newly infected persons deal with their diagnosis and begin to navigate the healthcare system.

 
 
 
 

Contact Us about joining our Older and Wiser Peer Support Program

North Carolina, Triangle area