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NYC Office of Actuary NYC Department for the Aging
HIV/AIDS and Seniors

Sexual Health and Aging

The need for intimacy is ageless. Sex may not be the same for you now as it was in your 20s but it can still be as fulfilling as ever. Remember, however: If you continue to be sexually active, you continue to be at risk for HIV/AIDS, unless you take precautions.

Read more about sexual health and aging from the Mayo Clinic

Some important HIV/AIDS facts from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:

  • HIV/AIDS is no longer a disease of young people.
  • Older persons account for an increasing proportion of persons living with HIV/AIDS. People 50 years of age and older now comprise 31% of persons affected by the virus and the proportion of persons with HIV/AIDS who are 65 and older has tripled in the last ten years.
  • Older adults are less likely to use protection because pregnancy is not an issue post-menopause.  They don't realize that condoms also protect against HIV/Aids.
  • Heterosexual transmission of HIV is the leading mode of transmission among people over 50.  More new cases occur in this age group through heterosexual than through same-sex transmission.

And further:

  • Older adults who are exposed to HIV are at greater risk than younger people because of weakened immune systems.
  • Health providers may not screen older adults for sexually transmitted diseases because of lack of training or ageist attitudes.
  • Older adults are not diagnosed properly as having HIV/AIDS because many of the symptoms resemble symptoms of old age.

What you can do:

  • Take precautions against HIV/AIDS if you are sexually active. Use condoms or other safe sex practices unless you know that your sexual partner does not have HIV/AIDS.
  • Discuss concerns with your doctor.
  • Get tested for HIV/AIDS if you have been, or are, at risk.