Majority of Older Australians Unaware of Their HIV Status
More than 50% of sexually active Australians over age 50 do not know their HIV status, and more than one-third of those in this age group have never used a condom during sexual intercourse, AAP News reports. A study presented Saturday at the Australian Sexual Health Conference tracked 2,650 Australians over the age of 50 who were attending a "major sexual health clinic" in Sydney. The study states that among sexually active Australians over 50 years of age, more than 60% of women and more than 50% of men did not know their HIV status. In addition, 45% of women and 36% of men in this group have never used a condom during sexual intercourse (AAP News, 5/31). Dr. Victor Minichiello, head of Australia's University of New England School of Health and a study co-author, said that "entrenched sexual views" among older people and a "misunderstanding that only young people have sex" are possible factors contributing to the lack of HIV testing and condom use among older people (Wroe, The Age, 6/1). Minichiello said that "a more preventative approach" is needed to curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in older Australians. "This would mean placing more emphasis on education campaigns specifically designed [to target] older people" and urging doctors to "be more proactive" in discussing STDs and condom use with older patients, he added. He noted that HIV infection is particularly dangerous for older people because the virus progresses more rapidly to AIDS, possibly because the immune systems of older people are weaker than those of younger people (AAP News, 5/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.