Dating seniors pushing for more HIV/AIDS education
More seniors in the province have joined the dating scene in recent years, but an accompanying increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases has sparked a call for more sexual health education.
The AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador said the number of seniors testing positive for the disease has been steadily increasing.
Gerard Yetman, executive director of the committee, said of the number of Canadians have tested positive for HIV/AIDS, those over 50 has gone from 11 per cent in 2007 to 18.5 per cent in 2012.
However, Yetman said it isn't a willing lack of knowledge on the part of the seniors, but rather the health care system that hasn't kept up.
"What a lot of seniors are telling us is they're not the ones uncomfortable, the people uncomfortable are the professionals that they are reaching out to for services, such as physicians," he said.
"We had a senior that shared his story with us that when he went to his family doctor to have an HIV test, the response from the physician was 'You're not in a risk category.'"
Yetman said not being able to get tested means there are more seniors who have contracted the disease, but who may not know it.
"I was a bit surprised, to say the least. I never thought seniors would be focused as possible contaminants of this dreadful disease," said Sylvester Yetman.
"People are living longer these days, and I guess there's a lot of people out there looking for companionship and what have you."
He said that while he's happily married, there are plenty of other seniors who have turn to modern methods of dating, including social media and online dating websites.
The AIDS Committee of N.L. said sexually active heterosexuals are the new at-risk category for HIV/AIDS infections, and tests - and education - should be more easily attainable.