My message today is geared to reach out to women age 55 and older who are sexually active and think that due to your age you have no reason to be concerned about becoming HIV infected.
This is actually not the attitude you should have regarding your sexual health and wellness.
There is a reality that we have to consider about being sexually active which is our vulnerability to become infected is just as great as any younger woman.
According to the Centers for Disease Control: People aged 50 and older have many of the same HIV risk factors as younger people, but may be less aware of their risk.
- People aged 55 and older accounted for about one-quarter (24%, 288,700) of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the United States.
- Older Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection later in the course of their infection.
We have to take an active role in our health and engage our partners in conversations about how to be mutually protected during sex. Don't assume because you are no longer a child bearing age woman that you do not need condoms
- Women who no longer worry about becoming pregnant may be less likely to use a condom and to practice safer sex. Age-related thinning and dryness of vaginal tissue may raise older women’s risk for HIV infection.
We also have to engage our health care professionals in conversations about our sexual activities and how we can protect ourselves and our partners.
- Although they visit their doctors more frequently, older people are less likely than younger people to discuss their sexual habits or drug use with their doctors. Also, doctors may be less likely to ask their older patients about these issues.
Knowing your status as well as your partners status prior to having sexual contact is important. The test is noninvasive and the wait time for results is very short.
If you do not know where you can obtain a test or if you cannot afford the test here a link that will provide you with information about sites in your area, don’t let the lack of adequate cash be a block to this procedure. Or you can text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636),
No matter what your sexual preferences are, you need to know what your status is and also the status of your partner.
Here are some additional sites that provide information for older adults about HIV/AIDS