Never Too Old; In the Age of AIDS and Viagra, the Safe Sex Message Applies to
Women Over 50 as Well
THE Chicago Tribune
BY Connie Lauerman
Among the findings of a 1999 American Association of Retired Persons mail survey of 1,384 adults age 45 and older, a third of women age 60 and older reported having sexual intercourse once or more a week. In another study, about half of 514 women over 50 surveyed recently by Emory University had a significant deficit of HIV knowledge.
Some Planned Parenthood affiliates have expanded their missions to address women beyond the typical childbearing years. And an educator in Planned Parenthoodís Grand Rapids, Mich., office has written a curriculum to help professionals counsel older patients, said Michael McGee, the national groupís vice president of education and social marketing.
Menopausal changes can make women more vulnerable to STDs. Many women over 50 are only diagnosed with HIV when they have AIDS. Women over 50 comprise 18 percent of US female AIDS cases, according to doctors. Pressure on women to have sex because their partner has taken a pill like Viagra has been documented in one small New Zealand study, and some experienced discomfort from prolonged, repeated intercourse.
Sex among older people is "not an issue brought into conversation in a family, much less in the community. Doctors donít talk to seniors about sex," nor is the populationís behavior well studied, said Vincent Delgado, a founder of National Association on HIV Over 50, and deputy director of special populations in Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami.
"The typical intervention is the use of the male condom during intercourse. We donít know, though, whether the male condom is really very effective for older couples," said Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, a gynecologist and geriatrician at the University of Chicago. "In order to use a condom properly, there needs to be a full erection, and we need to know whether the timing of condom application is appropriate for older men."
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