Elderly HIV - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Elderly HIV

Posted by Rachel Leigh email

(WFLX) - There's been a dramatic increase in new HIV cases over the past year. We've seen a 50 percent increase in Palm Beach County and 62 percent in Martin County.

That's not even the surprising part. What's shocking is who's being infected.

Jane Fowler became infected with HIV back in 1985 at age 50. "I realized I could not become pregnant, and why use protection?"

In the mid-90s, Fowler began sharing her story telling older people they can get HIV, too. "And, I think, is anybody listening? How can this be?"

It appears our senior population isn't listening.

In Florida, it's estimated 11,899 people 50 or older have aids or is HIV positive. In fact that age group makes up 14 percent of all new cases over the past year. "It does alarm me a lot because, if this continues, we could see a tremendous number of folks over the age of 60 infected."

The drug Viagra is partially being blamed, but the Palm Beach County Health Department says many of the seniors who are HIV positive were infected when they were younger and are just now finding out their HIV status.

But, health experts say, there are a growing number of seniors being infected. "Perhaps their partner is now gone for whatever reason. They're finding themselves back in the dating pool." 

Griffin worries there may also be some complacency since medications have made HIV and Aids more of a chronic health problem than a deadly one. "This is a virus that can affect anyone - infect and affect anyone."

It's a lesson all ages are now learning: Unprotected sex puts you at risk. If you're in the prime of your life or if your in your golden years.

Health experts say it's tough to get seniors to listen to sex education and to make things harder most of the HIV awareness programs are focused at bars where many seniors don't go.

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