Hiv/Aids And Adults Fifty And Older: Barriers, Strengths, Prevention, And Recommendations For Change

3959 words - 16 pages

Many women brought up in the 1940s and '50s, like Doris, were taught that if they accomplish what society expects of them, that they would be all right. Doris' early years largely confirmed this philosophy. A bright and appealing young woman, Doris married an equally smart and handsome man. She was blessed with three lovely children. However, after more than 20 years of marriage, her husband left her. After her divorce, she began dating Robert, a dear friend she had known for years. Eventually, they became lovers. It did not occur to Doris that she would put herself at risk by engaging in unprotected sex with an attractive, intelligent, amusing man of many interests, a man who had been a close friend her entire adult life.In her intimate relationships, Doris saw no need to use condoms because, as an older woman, she knew she couldn't become pregnant. She had few sexual partners, and knew them well, so she didn't fear sexually transmitted diseases. But, as sex educators and medical professionals have repeatedly stated for years, you don't have to be intimate with a lot of people to become infected with HIV, or any other STD for that matter. When Doris came home from Miami in January, after a wonderful trip with friends, she knew she would have a stack of mail to sort through. Trading the Florida sunshine for a cold east coast winter had not put her in the best mood, so when she found a letter from the health insurance company, to which she had applied for new coverage, she anticipated a forthcoming welcome letter. However, she was denied, due to a "blood abnormality."The next day, she telephoned the insurance company, and the underwriter told her that they would have to send the results of the blood test her my physician by mail, which would take several days. When she became heated and upset, the underwriter offered to fax the results instead. Several hours later Doris was in her doctor's office. When she asked her doctor what was wrong, she stated, "Doris, this insurance company claims you've tested positive for HIV." She discovered that Robert had infected her. She will now spend the rest of her life worrying that the virus would develop into life-threatening AIDS - that any cough, sneeze, rash or flu would, in fact, indicate AIDS and perhaps the beginning of the end of her life.Stunned, she had a second test a couple days later. After waiting a few weeks - the longest weeks of her life - she learned, sadly, that she had indeed contacted HIV. Her family and the few friends she told were shocked because she did not fit an AIDS stereotype. Doris was a successful 55-year-old marketing director, and lived a conventional, traditional lifestyle: she had been a virgin until her wedding night, and remained monogamous during 23 years of marriage. She did not consider herself promiscuous, and did not frequent the singles bars. Today, she lives in partial isolation, spending time mostly with family and the friends who knew her condition, who are...

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