HIV, AIDS, and Older Adults
How Do People Get HIV/AIDS? continued...
If you don't know your partner's sexual and drug
history. Has your partner been tested for HIV/AIDS? Has he or she had a
number of different sex partners? Does your partner inject drugs?
If you inject drugs and share needles or syringes with other
people. Drug users are not the only people who might share needles. People
with diabetes, for example, who inject insulin or draw blood to test glucose
levels, might share needles. If you have shared needles for any reason or if
you have had sex with someone who has, you should be tested for HIV/AIDS.
If you had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985, or a
blood transfusion or operation in a developing country at any time.
If any one of the above is true, you should be tested for
HIV/AIDS. Check your local phone directory for the number of a hospital or
health center where you can get a list of test sites. In most states the tests
can be confidential (you give your name) or anonymous (you don't give your
There are many myths about HIV/AIDS. The examples below are
- You cannot get HIV through casual contact such as shaking hands or hugging
a person with HIV/AIDS.
- You cannot get HIV from using a public telephone, drinking fountain,
restroom, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, or hot tub.
- You cannot get HIV from sharing a drink or being coughed or sneezed on by a
person with HIV/AIDS.
- You cannot get HIV from donating blood.
- You cannot get HIV from a mosquito bite.
Is HIV/AIDS Different in Older People?
The number of older people with HIV/AIDS is on the rise. About
10% of all people diagnosed with AIDS in the U.S. -- some 75,000 Americans -
are age 50 and older. Because older people don't get tested for HIV/AIDS on a
regular basis, there may be even more cases than we know. How has this
Because older Americans know less about HIV/AIDS than younger
age groups: how it is spread; the importance of using condoms and not sharing
needles; the importance of getting tested; the importance of talking to their
Because healthcare workers and educators have neglected the
middle-age and older population in terms of HIV/AIDS education and
Because older people are less likely than younger people to
talk about their sex lives or drug use with their doctors.
Because doctors don't tend to ask their older patients about
sex or drug use. It is harder for doctors to recognize symptoms of HIV/AIDS in
older people. Doctors need to talk to their patients about the specific
behaviors that put them at risk for HIV/AIDS.