When we think of HIV/AIDS we have certain populations in mind. We hear about its ravages on young men and women; on the gay and transgender populations; on the homeless and the intravenous drug user. We seldom think about HIV/AIDS and senior citizens. What no one talks about is HIV/AIDS and the older adult. It’s no wonder that when you talk to our senior citizens, they may have the perception that HIV/AIDS is not a risk to them. Is HIV/AIDS a risk to older adults? Is HIV/AIDS over 50 a problem? (Cichocki, 2007)
The truth of the matter is that HIV/AIDS surveillance shows that 10 percent of all new HIV/AIDS cases are in people over the age of 50. Statistics also show that new HIV/AIDS cases rose faster in the over 50 population than in people under 40. The following information sheds light on HIV/AIDS and the older adult population perception, and what can be done to raise awareness, slow the infection rate and sustain a high quality of life for our seniors (Cichocki, 2007).
Research has shown that, while many of these HIV/AIDS cases are the result of HIV infections at a younger age; many are due to becoming infected after age 50 (Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, 1996; 8:15.). Many older adult people live in assisted living communities, where there is still great stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, often associated with homosexuality and/or substance abuse. Management may be resistant to providing HIV/AIDS educational materials or presentation to their facilities.
Based on the progressive increase of HIV/AIDS in the older adult population, it is reasonable to predict that the perception of HIV/AIDS in this age group may continue to rise if steps are not taken to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission (Eldred & West, 2005). Education is power, and the need to change the perception of a forgotten population is long overdue. This study was administered to older adults in a nursing facility, senior activity center, and a community barber shop in Fayetteville, N.C. Current research suggests that understanding the transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus can lead to more positive perceptions, in this population-therefore could lower the risk of infections.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over the last decade, in Western countries, a slow but substantial ageing of the AIDS epidemic has been observed (Mack & ORY, 2003), mainly due to the longer survival of persons with HIV/AIDS following the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). On the other hand, an increasing proportion of people in midlife and late adulthood have been observed among newly acquired HIV infections in recent years (Levy, Ory, & Crystal, 2003). However, only recently studies have addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS among older adults, defined as those aged 50 years of above (Anton et al., 2005), and this phenomenon must still be characterized in detail. Although, HIV among older adults is not a new phenomenon, the most common mode of transmission has changed. Where blood transfusion was once the major mode of transmission in older adults, men who have sex with men (MSM) and those who have heterosexual contact, specifically sexual contact with a person at risk, now account for the majority of HIV transmissions. These two risk groups account for the majority of AIDS diagnoses in this group as well (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2005b).
The lack of risk information directed to older adults is compounded by the fact that HIV risk exists in a context of secrecy (Linsk, 2000). HIV is associated with social taboos, which may contribute to a reluctance to report engagement in a stigmatized behavior. HIV is perceived as a lethal disease transmitted by specific behaviors and most prevalent among gay men and IDUs (Linsk, 1994). This study was designed to look at the perception of the female and male population, age 50 and above. Demographic characteristics and knowledge statements was displayed by using tables in order to get a...
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