HIV on the rise among elderly
There is a resurgence of sexual activity among elderly persons, thanks to the availability of potency drugs, but many are doing their thing without protection and it is behind a rise in HIV/AIDS among older Barbadians.
This was revealed by the President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP), Ed Bushell, who said that while the incidence of HIV/AIDS was declining overall in Barbados, figures for senior citizens were moving in the opposite direction.
“HIV/AIDS is on the rise among the elderly,” Bushell said at a Wednesday night panel discussion, hosted by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, titled, ‘Health for all?’
The head of the organization, which boasts some 44,000 persons over the age of 50, with a few past 100, told the Queen’s Park Steel Shed audience, “Don’t talk about HIV/AIDS and it is being reduced. It is being reduced in most of the population, except the elderly.
“The reason that is being given is that with the advent of sexual enhancing drugs . . . those who were not tempted before are now tempted. And more than tempted, they are getting themselves into action without the necessary cautions that they should take.”
Other members of the panel were Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John and Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, Sir Errol “Mickey” Walrond.
Moving to other health challenges of the elderly, Bushell noted that once past 60 years, a person was classified as elderly.
“We have the highest percentage of elderly persons in this region.”
He quoted United Nation statistics that project a growth in Barbados’ elderly population.
“Now, one in nine persons in Barbados is over 60, but in 2050 it will be one in five, so you can see the elderly population expanding very rapidly.”
“This raises special problems,” he said, explaining that the issue is with increasing health costs. “There is some disadvantage that we recognise. … especially in our age group, whereas when you are ageing, you tend to be more vulnerable, and we want to use the medical services more.”
He said the situation was compounded by this demographic being mostly people on pensions, “and most pensions are fixed and hardly move with the cost of living, and the cost of health care is escalating, the elderly are not able to match, and therefore they fall further and further behind.
“So what we are likely to have . . . because they are trying to provide health care for themselves, they’ve gone into poverty because they spend all their money on health care.”