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DC to increase HIV/AIDS education funding for seniors #HIV #AIDS

DC to increase HIV/AIDS education funding for seniors #HIV #AIDS

You wouldn’t think this is the best way to spend money, but DC has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the 50 yrs older and up crowd:

Officials say about one in five newly diagnosed cases in Washington is a person 50 or older. And older people are often diagnosed later and sicker than others because they don’t think they’re at risk.

Now city officials are trying to raise older residents’ awareness about the disease, which is spread through having unprotected sex or sharing needles and is treatable but has no cure. They plan to spend $150,000 a year over at least the next two years reaching out to seniors. But talking to the baby boom generation about HIV and AIDS is different from talking to adolescents.

Some seniors are less comfortable discussing sexually transmitted diseases, yet they’re engaging in the same risky behavior that adolescents do that lead to HIV infection, said Michael Kharfen, who oversees outreach for the Department of Health branch tasked with HIV and AIDS programs.

“They were young people with risky behaviors and now they’ve become older people with risky behaviors,” said Courtney Williams, a member of the D.C. Office on Aging and helped put together the city’s new outreach program.

Seniors have drug addictions and engage in unprotected sex just as young people do, putting them at risk for contracting HIV. And any health classes senior citizens took when they were young wouldn’t have covered the disease.

That’s why the city, which has more than 14,000 people living with HIV, has spent the last two years developing an approximately hour-long talk specifically geared for seniors. Speakers bring along condoms. They’ve also created accompanying brochures and posters with images of older people. City officials looked at one other HIV and AIDS program for seniors in New York that was created by a nonprofit, but what they came up with is their own.

 (thumb via the linked article)

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