Today, December 1 is World AIDS Day, and more than a quarter of Americans living with HIV are over 55. In large part due to the growing number of treatments to suppress HIV, a positive test result is no longer a death sentence. Still, there is no cure.
Older adults are living longer, and many of them are single and sexually active. No longer concerned with pregnancy, seniors may not be using protection and with little education about sexually transmitted diseases, older adults are at increasing risk for contracting HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three people diagnosed with HIV in 2009 were over 50, compared with one in six in 2001.
Older adults are less likely to talk openly with their doctors about their sexual activity and as a result may get a diagnosis later in the course of the virus when treatment options may be less effective. Other STDs such as syphillis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are also on the rise in the older community.
Encouraging older adults to talk opening with their health care provider about their sexual activity can ensure they are educated about safe sex practices and get tested early to better treat existing conditions. To find out more about where you can get tested visit gettested.cdc.gov or call 1-800-CDC-INFO. In Canada go to hiv411.ca to find your nearest HIV testing location or visit the Canadian Aids Society at www.cdnaids.ca for more information.