Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections May Not Be a Priority for Older Adults—But It Should Be


When Mark S. King got his test results for HIV in 1985, he said it was like choosing to open a letter telling him when he was going to die.

“There was nothing good that could come out of an HIV-positive test result,” King said in a recent phone interview with Rewire.News. “The only thing you could be sure of is you would be fired from your job and kicked out by your roommate and you’d never get a manicure again.”

His result was grim: He tested positive. But even as AIDS killed his friends throughout the following years, he somehow survived. Today, at 57, he’s living a full life with his husband and advocating for HIV awareness.

Although King survived to see an era when an HIV diagnosis is no longer fatal, he’s now part of a demographic, those 45 and over, who are experiencing some of the highest increases in rates of sexually transmitted illness of any age bracket in the United States. The trend stems from a combination of new diagnoses and people—particularly those with HIV—aging into the older adult category, says Dr. Janet Pregler, director of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center.

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