Sex education is not just for kids
and condoms are not just birth control.
“How will I ever tell my children?”
In my work with seniors who have contracted the HIV virus, I have heard this lamentation and others like it many times. Men and women over 50 are living with HIV in never seen before numbers.
Our mission as health care providers to the geriatric set is changing quickly; we must expand our specialty to include preventing and treating HIV/AIDS just as quickly.
• Sex education is not just for kids and condoms are not just birth control.
• AIDS stimulates and simulates aging. We must include an infectious disease practitioner as well as a geriatric practitioner in the care team and learn the differences as well as commonalities between the two specialties.
• Provider fear around AIDS contagion still persists. Education must be provided to all levels of caregivers, beginning at the top of your organization.
It is no longer acceptable to expect that our older clients are not at risk. Age is not a vaccine. We must be brave enough to conduct a sexual history, wise enough to think of HIV as a diagnostic possibility and supportive enough when the results confirm HIV-positive.
—Jeanine Reilly, RNC, LNHA
Broadway House for Continuing Care, Newark, NJ
Coordinated care is critical. Let’s work together.