National HIV Testing Day June
There are more
than 1 million people in the United States living with
HIV. One-fourth of them do not know that they are
HIV-infected. The only way to know if you have HIV is to
HIV is the virus
that causes AIDS, and it is affecting older Americans.
In 2005, people
over the age of 50 accounted for:
of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses;
24% of people
living with HIV/AIDS; and
35% of all deaths of people with AIDS
mistakenly assume that older Americans are not sexually
active and therefore not at risk for HIV infection. This
is not the case. A 2007 national survey of Americans
ages 57 to 85 found that the majority of older Americans
are sexually active. This is particularly true for
healthy older Americans.
Americans do not always realize that they may be at risk
for HIV infection. Many came of age in the decades
before AIDS and did not receive the information about
HIV prevention that younger generations did. Others were
married or in long-term relationships for many years and
tuned out information about HIV. Now, after being
widowed or divorced, they are entering intimate
relationships again for the first time in decades.
Compared with those who are younger, they may be less
knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS and therefore less likely
to protect themselves.
Americans need information about HIV prevention, most do
not talk to their doctors about their sex lives. Only
about a third of older men and just a fifth of older
women surveyed had discussed sex with a doctor since age
50. Doctors, too, may underestimate their older
patients' risk for HIV/AIDS and thus may miss
opportunities to discuss HIV prevention or offer HIV
Older people also
may mistake the early symptoms of AIDS for the aches and
pains of normal aging and neglect to get tested for HIV,
or they may feel ashamed or afraid of being tested.
Know Your Status. Get Tested for
The HIV test
detects whether or not you have been exposed to the HIV
virus. There are several different kinds of tests: blood
tests, urine tests, and an oral (mouth) test. Only a
very small amount of blood is needed for the blood
HIV tests can
take a few days to 2 weeks for results, or with rapid
HIV tests you can get results in 20 to 30 minutes.
Where Can I Get Tested?
confidential or anonymous HIV tests are available.
find an HIV testing site near you, visit
In English, en Español
Open 24 hours a day - Confidential
What Else Can I Do?
You have the power to help stop the
spread of HIV.
Be safe. Even if you or your
partner are past the age where you need to worry about
unwanted pregnancy, you still need to protect yourself
from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The
best way to prevent HIV is to abstain from having sex.
If you do have sex, use a new latex condom every time.
Do not share needles or syringes.
Talk to your doctor. Many older
Americans visit the doctor on a routine basis, but they
do not often bring up the subject of sex or drug use.
But talking about HIV testing is your responsibility. Do
not assume your doctor will ask you to be tested for
Spread the word. Thousands of Americans are infected
with HIV each year. Set an example by getting tested and
spreading the word that other older Americans should do
Fact sheet prepared by:
National HIV Testing Mobilization
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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