By 2017, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine predict 50 percent of Americans living with HIV will be over age 50. Though some of these people will have been living with the virus for many years, there has also been an increase in HIV diagnoses for people well into their senior years. Tucson, AZ, senior care experts discuss 4 of the top reasons why the elderly are at such high risk for HIV.
1. Knowing Little About How the Virus Is Transmitted
Most safe sex education programs are aimed at teens and young adults.According to the Senior HIV Intervention Project, many seniors are still under the misconception HIV is only transmitted through blood transfusions or even by casual contact. Some seniors also assume safe sex only refers to preventing pregnancy, which is no longer a concern for most people their age. As a result, seniors often have a higher incidence of unprotected sex than younger people.
2. Engaging in Other High-Risk Activities
According to a study conducted by the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, many sexually active older adults participate in risky behaviors without realizing it increases their chances of contracting HIV. For example, nearly one-half of sexually active older adults report using alcohol or drugs before having sex, and approximately 60 percent of older single women claim to have had unprotected sex within the past 10 years.
3. Avoiding Routine Screenings
Seniors are more likely than younger adults to be diagnosed with HIV after they have been infected for a long time. This is due in part to a lack of openness between seniors and their health care providers regarding sexual and behavioral risk factors. Some doctors do not routinely screen older adults for HIV and risky behaviors, and seniors may be afraid to broach the subject due to the stigma still associated with HIV and AIDS.
4. Developing Age-Related Health Concerns
Postmenopausal women have increased thinning and dryness of the vaginal mucosa, which can lead to tearing during intercourse and increase the risk of infection. Seniors are also more likely to have other chronic health conditions that make diagnosing HIV more difficult, cause the disease to progress faster, and make it harder to find appropriate treatments that do not interfere with other medications.
If your loved one needs help managing HIV or another serious condition, turn to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can provide transportation to and from medical appointments, offer medication reminders, and help with a wide array of tasks around the house. For more information on respite and live-in care Tucson, AZ, seniors can count on, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at (520) 214-5440 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.