Efforts To Prevent Spread Of HIV/AIDS Among US Adults

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The Los Angeles Timeson Monday examined the "national push" to increase HIV/AIDS preventionefforts among adults ages 50 and older in the U.S. As people begin tolive longer than previous generations and experience extended sex livesbecause of hormone replacement therapy and erectile dysfunction drugs,there is a "growing concern that the baby boom generation -- and theirelders -- don't understand that getting older doesn't make one immune"to HIV/AIDS, according to the Times. That concern isfueling efforts by public health officials and educators for scaled upprevention efforts aimed at "aging baby boomers and those who arefirmly in their golden years," the Times reports.

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Mostmedical experts agree that the older U.S. population often is among the"most overlooked" and, therefore, "one of the more vulnerable"populations to HIV/AIDS, the Times reports. Experts notethat the majority of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention education duringthe last 20 years has been aimed at teenagers, urban residents and menwho have sex with men. In addition, older people often are reluctant totalk about sex with their doctors, according to AARP. A study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicinereported that a majority of 3,005 surveyed U.S. adults ages 57 to 85have sex two to three times monthly. However, only 38% of the men and22% of the women surveyed had discussed sex with a doctor since theyturned 50, according to the report. The report also found that doctorsare uncomfortable with discussing the risks of sexually transmittedinfections with older patients, the Times reports.

Spencer Lieb, senior epidemiologist at the Bureau of HIV/AIDS at the Florida Department of Health,said that part of the problem with determining what risks older U.S.residents face comes from a lack of testing data. Lieb said some of theincrease in the number of people ages 50 and older living with HIV/AIDScan be attributed to people who are living longer with the disease.Researchers "don't really know what the true prevalence" of STIinfection is in "this group," Lieb said, adding, "There's reason tothink, at least anecdotally, this is a combustible situation that isbeing overlooked" (Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times, 11/26).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.

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