Talking about HIV/AIDS with Hispanic Elders

There are certain topics that many families and caregivers might try to avoid discussing with older adults. The issue of HIV/AIDS is certainly one of them.

It is easy to sweep any conversation steering in that direction under the rug because many find it an uncomfortable topic to talk about. What should make all of us uncomfortable, though, is the increasing number of seniors 50+ who are living with HIV/AIDS.

That is why NHCOA partners with the CDC through the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative to use dialogue and openness to replace the deafening silence that often prevails when it comes to HIV/AIDS and diverse elders, particularly Hispanic older adults.

Although talking HIV with Hispanic seniors can be challenging, it is a conversation that we must have. Oftentimes, they believe they are immune to HIV because it only infects youth and this can make them less likely to practice safe sex.

This reality is compounded by a convergence of demographic, cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, mental health, drug abuse, and age-related factors that continue to challenge our public health and health care delivery system as it relates to prevention, education, and treatment within diverse communities.

On September 18, we will commemorate the fifth annual National HIV/AIDS Aging and Awareness Day to focus on these challenges aging populations face when it comes to HIV prevention, testing, access to care, and treatment.

As part of these efforts, we invite all communities, especially diverse elders and their families and caregivers, to join the Act Against AIDS campaign by getting the facts, getting tested, and getting involved.

NHCOA is one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. To learn how you can act against AIDS, please visit www.actagainstaids.org.

Dr. Yanira Cruz is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.