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Catania Legislation Confronts Increasing HIV/AIDS Infection Rate Among Senior Citizen | Politics

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Catania Legislation Confronts Increasing HIV/AIDS Infection Rate Among Senior Citizen


From Brendan Williams-Kief:

Today, Councilmember David A. Catania (At-Large) introduced the “Senior HIV/AIDS Education and Outreach Program Establishment Act of 2011.”  According to recent data, the proportion of new AIDS cases nationally among adults ages 50 and older has increased from 19.2% in 2005 to 26.4% in 2009.  In the District, 7.4% of residents 40-49 years of age and 6.1% of residents 50-59 years of age are living with HIV/AIDS. Older adults are more likely to get tested later than the rest of the population resulting in diagnosis and treatment delays.

Today’s legislation would direct the Department of Health to recruit and train senior citizens to be peer educators on HIV/AIDS, engage service providers on issues related to seniors and HIV/AIDS, and develop a curriculum focused on HIV/AIDS and  the senior population.  The senior peer educators called for in today’s legislation would provide presentations and conduct workshops in senior centers, nursing and retirement homes, before civic and social groups, and at religious centers.

“Providing appropriate HIV information to this population requires certain sensitivities,” said Councilmember Catania. “This program will fill an important information gap in the District’s health education and risk reduction efforts and provide desperately needed information on HIV transmission to a demographic increasingly at risk.”

A study by the U.S. Administration on Aging revealed that only about a third of older men and just a fifth of older woman surveyed had discussed sex with a doctor since the age of 50.  Additionally, the symptoms of HIV/AIDS for older adults frequently mirror the aches and pains of the normal aging process. Today’s legislation creates a formal structure in the District for the provision of current and uniform HIV/AIDS education to senior citizens.  The legislation complements existing efforts to expand the reach of the District’s HIV/AIDS response to encompass older residents.  Recently, the District’s HIV/AIDS administration (HAHSTA) convened a working group of senior citizens and providers working with older adults, including the District’s Office on Aging and AARP.  The working group is developing outreach materials and information tailored specifically for the senior citizen population. 


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