Mix & Match Safer Sex Activities for Older Adults
1. Identify risk factors for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), including HIV/AIDS.
2. Learn the basic facts about “safer sex” and how to protect oneself from STIs.
3. Evaluate different types of condoms, including the female condom, and lubrications, and demonstrate their correct use.
4. Rehearse opening a conversation about safer sex.
It’s a familiar story: Someone loses a partner through divorce, death, or other life circumstance, and begins a new relationship. As the relationship moves toward sexual intercourse, the couple may not think about preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), associating condoms only with earlier contraceptive use. However, the number of older adults infected with HIV/AIDS continues to grow. About a quarter of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the United States in 2005 were age 50 and over, representing a 17% increase from 2001, and it is projected that the majority of those living with HIV/AIDS by 2015 will be 50 years old and older. Several factors contribute to this increase, including the lack of sexual health education provided for this population. Additionally, older adults are less likely to discuss this topic with their physicians or partners, or to get tested for STIs because they are embarrassed, ashamed, or unaware of available testing and treatment.
Due to the important nature of this topic and the rise of STIs among older adults, this lesson includes several strategies that can be used to educate older adults about safer sex. Each strategy is categorized into one of three sections: Opening Activities, Core Activities, and Closing Activities. Mix and match the strategies as appropriate for your group, enabling participants to think about their own potentially risky behaviors and understand the importance of safer sex. We suggest using at least one strategy from each category.