In February 2012, Student British Medical Journal revealed a study on rising STI and STD rates, including HIV, in seniors. “Sexual Health and the Older Adult” estimated that in the US, UK and Europe rates of transmission doubled in the last 10 years.  

For instance, in Britian, HIV among the 50-90 age group comprised 20% of the reported infected population.

Some may shy away from this taboo subject, or turn a blind eye so as not to get involved. But if the health of the aging community is a primary concern of providers and care givers, sexual health is equally important.

One organization, Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University in Pennsylvania, USA, has taken matters into their own hands and is providing education, safety instruction and guidance for professionals.  They have released numerous ads in public places to increase awareness and have caused a stir with their risqué YouTube videos.

In the media, the issue has come to attention in a more-light hearted article in June’s issue of The Atlantic about the re-release of the classic film Harold and Maude (1971), a film in which a woman pushing her 80’s is shown enthusiastically kissing and caressing a younger man.  The article explores senior sexuality through the eyes of pop-culture and the stereotypes of aging.

This week, the Journal of Medical Ethics published a report dealing with the subject of sex and seniors in a more serious tone. The report exposes lack of safety and discretion in nursing homes in protecting sex among seniors.  It discusses the difficulties in grappling with consensual sex, primarily in elderly with dementia, and the complexities providers must deal with regarding the subject.

How are care givers around the world responding to the sensitivity of this issue?
Hand in Hand

[credit: garryknight, flickr]

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