Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
HIV-Positive Older Woman Speaks About Dual Stigma of ‘Ageism’ and AIDS
Jane Fowler, a 66-year-old woman with HIV who serves as the head of the National Association on HIV Over 50, chose to begin speaking out publicly about her experience with the virus because of the dual stigma of having HIV at an advanced age, the
Detroit Free Press reports in a profile on her work. "We're fighting the stigma of ageism as well as having a sexually transmitted disease. In our culture, older people aren't supposed to be having sex. It's like you die from the neck down," she explained. Fowler contracted the virus after she began dating again after divorcing her husband of 23 years, and now the former journalist travels the country speaking on HIV/AIDS prevention among older people. According to the CDC, people over the age of 50 now account for 10% of all AIDS cases. Michigan reported 471 AIDS cases and 299 HIV cases in people over 50 as of July, representing 10% and 5% of that state's respective case totals. Victoria Smith, a case manager at the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan, said that older people with HIV do not "cope as well" with the side effects of AIDS drugs and are not as aware of their treatment options as younger people. "They are not as savvy either on what's available ... [t]hey aren't in support groups like younger people and aren't able to get out. They don't fit in," she added. Fowler said such stories prompted her to begin speaking publicly. "It just came over me that if I spoke out, I might prevent someone else from being infected," she said (Edgar, Detroit Free Press, 10/29).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.