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Editorials and Commentary

Seniors Not Exempt From AIDS

January 9, 2003

"... Many adults can't imagine an elderly parent as sexually attractive. They're wrong.

"An [American Association of Retired Persons] study a few years ago found that more than half of men and women ages 45 to 59 reported having sex once a week or more; one in four older than 75 said they had sex at least once a week.

"And for this older age group, experts say there is good reason to fear getting AIDS from unprotected sex. AIDS (and HIV), they say, is increasingly heterosexual, older and grayer.

"One reason cited is that for the older generation, using condoms was primarily to avoid pregnancy. Now, with the child- child bearing stage in life well past, men too seldom offer to use protection and women too seldom ask.

"The advent of drugs to help men with erectile functioning also may play a role, if the men have unprotected sex with women who have AIDS or other diseases.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that among Americans who have AIDS, the percentage who are older than 50 rose steadily in the 1990s.

"So where is the public campaign to make seniors aware that they are not exempt from the danger of AIDS? Most messages are aimed at the young, which is well enough. But why exclude their vulnerable elders?

"Do doctors question older people about their sexual behavior and histories? Are drug trials conducted on the older age group as well as the young?

"And when does it stop being a joke because older men and women -- yes, even your parents -- still feel vital and sexual?"

The author, age 81, is a freelance writer, poet and playwright.

Back to other CDC news for January 9, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)
01.05.03; Lucille deView

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.