Many people think that HIV/AIDS does not affect older people, but this is simply not true. HIV/AIDS is taking an increasing toll on women, including women over the age of 50.
We care about the health of all of our visitors and their families. Knowing their HIV status gives women the power to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Each year, more than 40,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV, including thousands of women. Many of them do not know it because they have never been tested.
Some women neglect to get tested because they do not realize that they are at risk. This may be particularly true of older women who came of age in the decades before AIDS and did not receive the information about HIV prevention and risk that their daughters did.
Older women who were married or in long-term relationships for many years also may have tuned out information about HIV. Now, after being widowed or divorced, they are entering intimate relationships again, unprepared and unprotected.
While women will talk to their doctors about all kinds of aches and pains, they are often shy to bring up a subject as intimate as HIV testing. In a recent survey of people over age 50, just one-fifth of women surveyed said they discussed sex with their doctors.
Yet, HIV testing is critical. Unrecognized HIV infections account for more than half of all new sexually transmitted HIV infections each year. Once diagnosed, those living with HIV can fully benefit from available life-extending treatments. They can also take steps to protect their partners.
Don’t Know Your HIV Status? It’s Time to Find Out
As many as 1.2 million Americans may be infected with HIV. One-fourth of them do not know they have it. This includes many women over age 50. There are many ways to get tested including the following:
- Ask your doctor or nurse to do the test.
- Ask your doctor or nurse where to find a local HIV testing site.
- Visit www.hivtest.org to find a nearby testing site.
- Call 800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) for HIV testing information and locations.
HIV Testing Options: Find the Right One for You
Many women avoid getting tested for HIV because they are not sure what the test involves. The testing process can seem scary to some and too much work to others. But the truth is that HIV testing is relatively easy. The following are several testing options:
- Blood or urine tests. The most common HIV tests are blood or urine tests that require you to give a sample. The blood or urine gets sent off to a lab and you will have results in a few days to 2 weeks.
- Oral (mouth) test. For an oral test, you put a pad in your mouth for a few minutes, then it is sent to a lab and you will have results in about 1 week.
- Rapid HIV test. A rapid test gives results in 20-30 minutes. This requires either a small amount of blood from your finger or a swab of your mouth.
All positive HIV tests must be followed up by another test to confirm the positive result. Results of this confirmatory test can take a few days to a few weeks.
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