Southeast Texas HIV/AIDS awareness workers say they have grown increasingly concerned about the virus – as well as other sexually transmitted diseases – spreading among seniors, including those in retirement communities and nursing homes.
A renewed sex life through erectile dysfunction drugs, combined with a lack of awareness, have put more seniors at risk, said David Asher, former (2006) prevention coordinator at the Beaumont-based Triangle AIDS Network.
Many seniors still believe HIV/AIDS only affects homosexuals, he said, and with pregnancy no longer an issue, some seniors don’t feel the need to use protection. Other seniors want to use protection, but have no access to it or don’t know how to use it, Asher said.
Officials from both Triangle AIDS Network and Project AIDS Land Manor said it is rare for them to be invited or allowed to give sex education programs and pass out condoms in retirement communities and nursing homes.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2003, the latest year for which statistics are available. Of those people, about one fourth are unaware of their infection. At least 40,000 people become infected with HIV each year, according to the CDC.