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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 name).

There are many myths about HIV/AIDS. The examples below are FACTS:

  • 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 happened?

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 doctor.

Because healthcare workers and educators have neglected the middle-age and older population in terms of HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

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.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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