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Having the Talk with your Parents: September 29, 2012

If you haven’t had the ‘talk’ with your parent’s maybe you should. About 36 percent of people with HIV are 50 or older and the disease is expected to get grayer.

“By 2015, it is expected it will be 50 percent of people living with HIV, will be about the age of 50,” says internal medicine physician Dr. Marshall D’Souza, an HIV specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.

But as the numbers swell, there is not a ground swelling of awareness among the elderly. Experts believe it’s time the older generation revisits the ABC’s of S-E-X.

“A is for Abstinence, the safest sex, no sex. B is for Be faithful, remain with the same person. C is for condom use,” says Dr. D’Souza

Fifty year old men are six times less likely than men in their 20’s to use a condom. With post-menopausal partners, the fear of pregnancy is gone, but the desire is not forgotten.
“The generation that we see now, they’re retaining their health and their activity well until their 70’s and 80’s and some cases 90’s.  So we’re seeing a healthier older generation that is staying active and that includes sexually active,” says Sharon Murphy, Executive Director of McGregor Clinic.

HIV and STDs are largely a hidden problem with older people less likely to discuss their sex lives or the associated risk.

“They don’t think that they’re at risk.  ‘Well, you don’t have to worry about that, you’re not using drugs, you’re not gay, you don’t have to worry about getting HIV’,” says Murphy.

“But HIV does not discriminate any age groups.  Anybody can get HIV infection engaging in risky behavior,” says Dr. D’Souza

HIV can be more destructive in the elderly who may have chronic diseases or compromised immune systems. So knowing the facts of life can help them stay stronger longer.