Sunday, December 2, 2012

HIV AIDS and Baby Boomers - A High Risk Group

December 1 has been set aside each year as World AIDS Day, a day to recognize the on-going problem of HIV and the epidemic of AIDS that continues to spread around the world.  Baby Boomers are one of the highest-risk groups for acquiring this disease, so it seems appropriate that World AIDS Day should be acknowledged in this blog.

Since the disease first attracted national attention in the early 1980's, much of the original hysteria about the disease has diminished.  However, while the disease may not be attracting as much attention as it once did, it has not gone away.

According to CNN's Headline News, the Center for Disease Control has reported that there are over one million people in the United States who are currently living with the HIV virus, and individuals who are over the age of 50 make up one of the fastest growing groups of people who are contracting HIV.  One reason why Baby Boomers and older generations continue to be infected is because they are not well-educated about the behaviors that put them at risk.

Baby Boomers Fail to Take Precautions to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Since many Baby Boomers, and older senior citizens, no longer worry about pregnancy, they do not take precautions that could protect them from sexually transmitted diseases such as the HIV virus.  This is a serious problem. Headline News reports, in an online article entitled "The AIDS epidemic: 31 years later," that the HIV virus is now "the world's leading infectious killer."  Unfortunately, far too many Americans believe that the disease has gone away, or that it is not something they need to worry about.

AIDS is a Serious Health Risk for People of All Ages

Surprisingly, a number of Americans of all ages believe, incorrectly, that AIDS is no longer a serious problem.  I work at a high school and recently one of the science teachers gave the students a copy of an article about HIV and AIDS in teenagers (another high risk group).  One of the students pushed the article aside and told me that, since AIDS has been cured, he didn't need to read the article.  He used as his "proof" the fact that basketball star Magic Johnson is still alive.  Since this young man is only 15, his lack of knowledge may be understandable.  Unfortunately, I have heard adults much older than him who believe the same thing.

According to the World Health Organization, the truth is that each year about 2 1/2 million people around the world are becoming newly infected with HIV.  Right now almost 33 1/2 million people are living with HIV.  Children and adults throughout the world who become infected may have done so as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, blood transfusions, being exposed to contaminated blood, sharing needles during drug use, or sexual intercourse.

One in Five People With the HIV Virus Do Not Know It

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that, out of the one million people who are living with HIV in the US, approximately 200,000 of them do not know that they have the infection.  Because of this, they may spread the disease for years before they become aware of the fact that they are contaminated.

There is still no cure for HIV.  However, there are treatments, including a drug called Truvada which may prevent it.  Meanwhile, the best prevention is to be in a monogomous relationship with someone who has had a blood test.  It is also wise to use a condom if there is any uncertainty about your partner's health or prior activities.

If you are interested in learning more about health issues that could affect Baby Boomers, as well as where to retire, financial planning and changing family relationships (including dating), use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.


You may also be interested in reading these health related posts:

Sexually Transmitted Diseases After Age 50
Avoid Grapefruit When Taking Medications
Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You

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Photo of AIDS symbol courtesy of


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I once spoke to Magic Johnson when he first learned he was infected. There was a huge awareness because of his public announcement but these years later, that awareness has obviously fallen to ignorance. This is an article that needs to be shared. Thanks for reporting your personal experience with students.


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