by e.shor

The discussion of HIV has “traditionally” been centered around gay men in the LGBTQI community, but in the last ten years we have found more information on the intersections of HIV with communities of color, transgender folks (mostly transgender women, but not exclusively), and people over the age of 50. I mention these populations because they do not necessarily get a lot of press time with HIV research and prevention…and they should.

Robert Valadéz from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in NYC gave some really helpful information about HIV transmission and trends in adults over 50. This is a growing body of literature and there is more and more community support for prevention and interventions. Here are some things we learned about:

In 2005, Persons Aged 50 and Older accounted for (CDC 2007):

  • 15% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses
  • 24% of persons living with HIV/AIDS (increased from 17% in 2001)
  • 19% of all AIDS diagnoses.
  • 29% of persons living with AIDS.
  • 35% of all deaths of persons with AIDS.

So…these are some startling statistics. I am excited that we are talking about the jump in prevalence  from 17% (2001) to 27.4% (2007) for older adults that are 50+. This is a community that is overlooked so often in regards to sexual health education and prevention because for some reason we don’t like about older folks having sex. Well it is clear that this social stigma about sex among 50+ people is manifesting in some unfortunately public health issues, including growing rates of HIV and STI transmission. Let’s strip back a little of the stigma around sex among 50+ people and starting showing some respect to the folks who laid our histories.

CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2005. Vol. 17. Rev ed. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2007:1–54.

One thought on “Respect

  1. Thanks for this post. I have recently come in contact with some men individually who are over 50, HIV- and have managed to stay that way for three decades, through all the waves of transmission we have seen among self-identified gay men. These men face multiple issues, among them the decimation of their social networks and families of choice due to HIV, leaving them isolated, and all the survivors guilt and PTSD that goes with watching their friends and lovers die. Now many of them have lost their careers due to the recession. This is huge! Not only are they dealing with this new layer of experience, but they see their peers with HIV/AIDS (at least here in NYC) getting by with their entitlements, special housing, medicaid, etc. Certainly none of their HIV+ peers are rich or comfortable, but they have a safety net where as these negative men have very little. When they get desperate (when their unemployment and savings are exhausted) getting HIV seems almost a viable strategy to avoid homelessness. This, of course is thinking that only comes with despair. Is anyone else dealing with this kind of thing?

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