Yesterday was National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. Thanks to advances in treatment worldwide, people are living longer, healthier lives with HIV. When you realize HIV is not a life sentence, you have more time to think about and appreciate your sexual health and yourself as a sexual being. There are plenty of resources out from amazing organizations and groups about living with HIV (I’ll link a few below), but right now, I want to talk about sex and sixty.
Sixty is an age, not an expiration date. And there is belief that older women don’t want to talk about sex—especially with physicians who don’t think their older patients are having sex. They don’t ask, we don’t tell. But we have to speak up and be open with our doctors about sex.
The vaginal dryness that comes with menopause makes women more vulnerable to contracting STIs and there’s a clear knowledge gap between older and younger women when it comes to contracting infections.
One study found that condom use was very low among people over age 45. There’s also the fact that physicians may assume that older women have only one sexual partner, and therefore don’t require regular STI testing (spoiler alert: that’s wrong). STIs in older adults are often misdiagnosed, and/or diagnosed too late, making us less likely to respond to treatment.
What I want to remind you is that if you’re like me and navigating your sexual life in your sixties, take control of your conversations with your provider. Let them know that you are sexually active and that you want to be equipped to continue having happy, healthy, sex. Force them to provide you the care that you deserve!
National HIV/AIDS And Aging Awareness Day Resources
Have you heard of the #UequalsU movement? Learn more about undetectable = untransmittable.
Connect with the DC Office On Aging to access resources and services that are tailored to and for you.
Are you LGBT? The DC Center hosts regular Coffee Drop-Ins every Monday – enjoy a complimentary cup while connecting with old (and new!) friends.