HIV Prevention Strategies Needed for Elderly
By Sharifa Medford, BGIS
June 4, 2012
Credit: BGIS and A.Miller/Steven Blackett,
Minister of Social Care, Constituency
Empowerment and Community Development
delivers feature address at last week's
seminar entitled 'HIV and the Elderly', at
the Savannah Hotel.
call has gone out for the development of
HIV prevention strategies specifically for
The call has come from Minister of Social
Care, Steve Blackett, who believes that
older persons in our society are
"potentially at risk of HIV infection".
was at the time addressing a seminar
entitled HIV and the Elderly, which was
recently hosted by the National Assistance
Board at the Savannah Hotel.
Minister emphasised that the risk factors
for contracting the virus were basically
the same for persons over 50 years of age
as they were for younger persons. He,
however, noted that some sexually active
seniors were not practising safe sex
because they had passed the age of child
He added: "Some older persons...may be
less knowledgeable about HIV and AIDS and,
therefore, less likely to protect
themselves. Many do not perceive
themselves as at risk of HIV, do not use
condoms, and do not get tested..."
Blackett also reasoned that health care
practitioners may not offer HIV testing or
explain preventive measures because they
underestimate the older patients' risk of
contracting the virus.
The Social Care Minister disclosed that
projections showed that by 2017 more than
half of HIV-infected persons living in the
Western Hemishphere, will be over 50 years
old, and, therefore, stressed the need for
increased awareness and knowledge about
the virus for the older population.
He said that "the development of training
modules to help them negotiate
risk-reduction behaviours... [and] more
messages that are age-appropriate and
culturally sensitive to the circumstances
of older Barbadians" were very important.
"Seminars such as this one today, form an
integral part of the Ministry's strategy
of prevention and control; and care and
support, as we seek to educate and
sensitise this sector about the dangers
and impact of HIV and AIDS and the
consequences of risky sexual behaviour,"
Minister Blackett stated.