Group Makes Up 43 Percent Of Those Currently Living With Disease In State

NEWARK (CBSNewYork) — Health organizations have spent years trying to educate the public on how to prevent AIDS. But now they are targeting one specific group: people 50 and older, the new face of HIV/AIDS.

More and more senior citizens are becoming infected. Brenda Boone is one of them.

“I consider myself more than blessed to be living with HIV for such a long period of time, especially with the benefit of medication,” the 61-year-old told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

Boone has lived with AIDS for more than 20 years, but is now educating other seniors about the dangers of unprotected sex, something they don’t talk about.

“We go out and let them know there’s nothing wrong with having sex. It’s what you do to protect yourself,” Boone said.

Forty-three percent of people currently living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey are over the age of 50.

“Not in this day and age. It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Bob Van Orden of New Brunswick said when asked if he’s surprised by that statistics. Adding he would not be surprised to hear that people are still sexually active into their 70s.

Doctor Monique Howard said they are, especially men in their 60 and 70s that have access to Viagra. And older women, she said, are more at risk.

“A woman that is 60-65-70 doesn’t have to worry about pregnancy prevention. Condom use is not something that’s in her radar,” Dr. Howard said.

“Arthritis … and all the other things we have to go through, HIV shouldn’t be one of them,” Boone added.

That’s the message she hopes her peers are getting.

Educators said senior citizens also fail to get tested for AIDS and in most cases their doctors don’t think they have to test them.

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