In talks about prevention and care of HIVthe post-menopausal women They usually stay in background. However, the number of women over 50 years old living with HIV is being increasing rapidly.
Worldwide, according to UNAIDS, 4.2 million people13% of people living with HIVare over 50 years. According to data from Epidemiological Bulletin published by the AIDS and STD Directorate of the Ministry of Health of the Nation In our country there is an increase in diagnoses in women between the 45 and 59 years.
Why is the percentage of women 50+ with HIV growing?
The answer is complex, but it could be summarized in the combination of lack of sexual education and prejudices. When I was writing “Silver Triangles: sexual intelligence to live desire in adulthood”, my new book edited by Galerna, I interviewed almost 70 women in different countries of Latin America. While I was inquiring about sexual desire at this stage, I was surprised that in sexual encounters an adequate prophylaxis. Some of the causes that I identified behind this risky phenomenon are:
- Prejudices: Despite the misconception that older women are not sexually active, many are. The growth in life expectancy, cultural openness and drugs that allow erections to be sustained prolonged people’s sexual lives. However, there are few health professionals who investigate the topic in consultations with older people, they do not test them or give them clear guidelines on how to protect themselves.
- Lack of sexual education: Many women over 50 start relationships after a breakup or loss of a partner. Those who have been in monogamous relationships for a long time and are now being sexually active with new partners may underestimate the risk of HIV and, since there is no risk of pregnancy, believe that they no longer need to take care of themselves.
- Lack of empowerment: Without sexual education that enables them to set limits that protect them, there are many who feel uncomfortable talking about infections or demanding safe sex and, despite being aware of the risk, they “give in” to not taking care of themselves so as not to generate friction. in a relationship with a partner who often refuses to use a condom.
HIV diagnosis among mature women is increasing: what we can do about it
As I state in my book: Knowledge is power…and also pleasure! I propose that mature women, the group in which I am, take ownership of our sexuality and desire with the premise that to fully enjoy it, it is essential to feel safe and that we are responsible for our care. In it World AIDS DayI propose:
- Inform us: Understanding HIV and how to protect ourselves, since post-menopause women face a greater risk of infection during sex due to the thinning and fragility of the tissue of the vaginal walls, which means that the need to protect ourselves does not decrease. (Huésped Foundation has a lot of valuable and clear information on its site).
- Monitor yourself: Ask health professionals to include the HIV test in our routine tests. An early diagnosis is always more treatable than a late one.
- Take the reins of our desire: Protect ourselves physically and emotionally with clear rules. Feeling empowered to set limits and refuse to engage in practices that put us at risk. If the partner refuses or cannot use a condom, we can always propose a sexual encounter in which there is enjoyment and mutual stimulation, but that does not include intercourse.
- And as always…talk with other people on this topic and put words where until today there were silences and prejudices.
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