HIV/AIDS among Older Americans. 23/7/09

Examiner

The world has this idea that only the young can get HIV/AIDS, but the truth is NO ONE is immune to this disease. One big factor is that older Americans have less knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases than their younger counterparts. They are less likely to talk about their sex lives among their peers or to health care professionals. Another shocker is that health care professionals rarely  talk about HIV/AIDS, offer testing, or provide education on what exactly HIV/AIDS is to the older population. Whether we want to believe it or not...they have sex!!!  Women who have been though menopause, getting pregnant is no longer a worry and the use of condoms become a non issue for her. Or you may have the older man who is recently divorced looking for a younger woman to spice up his life. This last example goes for women as well. Seniors are not protecting themselves, and this leaves them extremely vulnerable.
According to the National Prevention Information Network (NPIN), 19% of people with HIV/AIDS are over the age of 50. Now this may very well be because of the new advancements in the types of drugs that many people that are living with HIV/AIDS have available to them. But it is uncertain as to how many of that 19% have recently been infected with this disease. With age the immune system becomes weakened and when you add HIV/AIDS to the picture it makes for a more compromised immune system. HIV/AIDS commonly goes undetected in the older population because they are misdiagnosed by health care professionals. A lot of the symptoms may be brushed off as common signs of aging.

It truly is difficult to get through the day without reading, seeing or hearing about sex, be it on TV, the radio and of course the World Wide Web. It has become the norm in our society. It is promoted as if it were fireworks on the 4th of July. But with that ,comes a great responsibility of education. According to Avert in 2007, in New York State there were 46,390 reported cases of people living with HIV and 75,253 reported cases of people living with AIDS. In the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Area there were 2,598 people living with AIDS. Now imagine all the people who haven't been tested that are HIV positive having unprotected sex and are over the age of 50...Very scary! There are places that offer free anonymous testing like AIDS Community Services located at 206 South Elmwood Ave Buffalo, NY. You can also go to ECMC where they provide testing as well. Both of these places will also provide education and counseling if needed.

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