Old Folks Gettin’ It On (And Avoiding HIV)
RH Reality Check has a heart-stopping headline on a sensitive topic: How Are Your Orgasms, Mom?
Whew, have you recovered yet?
I’m just being a little silly because the idea of older adults – even our parents – having sex is an idea that most of us would probably rather avoid. Hey, I joke when I’m uncomfortable – you? It’s certainly not something many of us (in my estimation) have gotten comfortable thinking or talking about. That’s why the above-linked post is so awesome.
The post, by Ann Whidden of the National Sexuality Resource Center, begins:
My mom turns sixty-nine this fall, and she recently asked if I could turn my communications expertise to a more familial project: updating her personal profile on a popular dating site. As she gears up to meet men for Coke dates in the mall, I geared up for how to have “the talk” that I never got from her. How do I cover the basics, like condom use and STI prevention that I wished I’d heard from her as a teen-and how do I cover topics like vaginal dryness, communication, and pleasure (topics I would have liked, but maybe not from mom)? I wish to be as bold as masturbation guru Betty Dodson, who, the story goes, once asked her mother, “How are your orgasms?”
Kudos to Ann for thinking about breaking down the barriers to open communication that many of us have. Ann also cites what I think is a very important statistic, and one that nobody ever seems to know/believe/take me seriously about:
15% of new HIV/AIDS cases are in people over 50 years of age
No, there haven’t historically been a huge percentage of HIV+ people who were older. However, as the CDC notes, people over 50 are not only 15% of new cases, but also 24% of persons living with HIV/AIDS (increased from 17% in 2001), 19% of all AIDS diagnoses, 29% of persons living with AIDS, and 35% of all deaths of persons with AIDS.
Regarding the new infections in older adults – These are people who did not grow up with HIV. They did not grow up with HIV awareness in their schools. Now, of course I can’t speak for what older people know about HIV. I know there is a lot of concern about the fact that they did not grow up learning about it, and may not be as up on safer sex practices as some younger folk. So if, like Ann, you have an older adult in your life who could use some information, follow her example and think about what you can perhaps provide.