5 HIV Facts Your Parents Need To Know

(BlackDoctor.org) — They have bathed us, fed us and changed our dirty diapers, but today they need our help. As our parents live single, experience life after divorce, survive the death of a spouse or even “step out” on or have an “understanding” about their dead-end marriage, most re-enter a dating world much more dangerous than the one they left.

According to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, baby boomers–people ages 44 to 64 years old–account for 27 percent of new HIV cases , and rising.

“Today’s young people grew up during the HIV/AIDS pandemic and have used condoms since they first started having sex,” explains ob-gyn Vanessa Cullins, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., the organization’s vice president for medical affairs. “Baby boomers did not have to be so careful about sexually transmitted infections when they were younger. So not only do they need to relearn dating skills, but they need to learn condom-negotiation skills.”

As a sex-savvy member of Gen X or Gen Y or a younger boomer, you have a responsibility to help keep your older loved ones safe. Whether your elders are looking for companionship, re-entering the dating scene, finding a “friend with benefits” or just plain cheating, help them do it safely — no matter what you think about it. School them about these five facts:

1. STDs, including HIV, are rampant in Black America: Gone are the days when it was okay to have sex without a condom or knowing your partner’s STD (including HIV) status. Rates of HIV, as well as the incidence of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis (pdf), are highest in our community.

What to tell your elders: Nice people get STDs, including HIV/AIDS; they don’t always have symptoms; and you can’t tell who’s infected by looking at them. So talk to your partner about safer sex, get STD and HIV tested, and insist that your partner use a condom unless you have actually seen his or her test results and are certain that you are in a monogamous relationship. Err on the side of protecting your health.

2. HIV/AIDS is not a gay men’s disease: Black men and women represent only 13 percent of the population but account for 45 percent of new HIV infections; in addition, 64 percent of all women living with HIV/AIDS are Black.