Health Officials, Policymakers Should Implement HIV Prevention Measures Aimed At Older Adults
Issues such as "decreased libido are not the only problems stemmingfrom adults remaining sexually active later in life," Daniel Tietz,executive director of the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, writes in a New York Times letter to the editor in response to a recent New England Journal of Medicine studyabout sexual behavior among older adults. According to a study releasedlast year by ACRIA, the "fastest-growing segment of the HIV-positivepopulation consists" of people over age 50, Tietz writes. He adds that33% of the almost 100,000 people living with HIV in New York City areages 50 and older. The "success" of antiretroviral drugs "makes itlikely that this group will account for the majority of people with thedisease in the next decade," Tietz writes.
The ACRIA studyalso found that "heterosexual sex is the primary mode of HIVtransmission," with 61% of people over age 50 who contracted the virusduring the past five years "citing this form" of transmission,according to Tietz. One likely reason for this finding is that "condomsmay be viewed as unnecessary once menopause has removed the danger ofunwanted pregnancy," Tietz writes, adding that because "fewHIV-prevention resources are aimed at older adults, new infection ratescould grow."
The "aging HIV/AIDS population faces a health caresystem and social support network ill prepared to meet its needs,"according to Tietz. New York City was the first in the U.S. to "beginan HIV prevention program for older adults," Tietz writes, concluding,"It is vital that officials, policymakers and others initiate similarefforts" (Tietz, New York Times, 8/30).
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