HIV & older adults

HIV & older adults

HIV does not discriminate.  All people, regardless of age, are at risk of infection.  Infection rates are growing in those aged 50 and over in the UK.

What should I do?…….

THINK – Look after your health and those you have sex with. 

  • It can feel embarrassing and awkward, but have a conversation with people you hope or intend to have sex with about past partners and sexual histories.  Be curious about whether new partners have had an HIV test before and what results were and be open about your testing history. 
  • Use a condom.  Condoms are great at reducing the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  Using condoms does not mean sex is less intimate, or signifies a lack of trust or commitment; it shows you are looking after you your health and that of your partner.
  • If a condom breaks or you have sex without a condom, PEP (HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) can dramatically reduce the chances of HIV infection. https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/pep-post-exposure-prophylaxis-hiv
  • If you are struggling around condom use with partners, PrEP (HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis) is available to people on the NHS after assessment. https://www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/prep-pre-exposure-prophylaxis
  • For information on how to access HIV PEP and PrEP please see details of our services on the following link. https://www.sexualhealthwestsussex.nhs.uk/other-information/prep-pep/

 

TEST – Get yourself and your partner checked for HIV and other STIs.

  • Testing is confidential, quick and easy.  It’s also one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of HIV (and other STIs).
  • Some people assume HIV is tested as part of routine checks with their GP.  It is not.  Consider if and when you last got checked.
  • You can test in a clinic, or order a test online to be sent to your home. https://www.sexualhealthwestsussex.nhs.uk/order-a-free-online-sti-self-test-kit-here/online-testing-information/
  • We recommend regular testing: If you are heterosexual (or straight), get yourself tested every year.  If you’re sexually active with different people, you might want to think about testing more frequently. If you’re a man who has sex with other men, get yourself tested every three months. 
  • Test Early: If you are uncertain, or concerned, don’t put off testing, or wait to see if you become unwell.  HIV can exist for years in your body, without showing obvious signs or symptoms, but delaying testing can mean you are more likely to be at risk of severe illness and earlier death as a result.

 

TREAT

  • Being diagnosed with HIV infection is no longer a death sentence. 
  • Medicines taken to control the virus are effective, keep those living with HIV fit & healthy, and prevent HIV infection from being passed onto others.
  • People living with HIV on successful treatment live equally long lives as others
  • People living with HIV enjoy happy, healthy, fulfilling sex and relationship
  • People living with HIV on successful treatment with undetectable viral loads in their body cannot pass on HIV infection to others. 
  • Do not be afraid of people living with HIV or avoid intimacy or relationships with them

Further information

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/wiltshire/about-us/hiv-awareness/

https://www.tht.org.uk/our-work/our-campaigns/hiv-sexual-health-and-ageing

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