For older members of the LGBTQ community, the HIV epidemic is more than a historical event. It’s a personal reality that has affected them, and continues to affect their friends, families, and loved ones. Unfortunately, it's this same group of people for whom HIV prevention medication often falls by the wayside. We’re told that we’re no longer at risk, that we don’t need to worry about preventing HIV anymore.
It’s true that the risk of getting HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections does go down with age, but that’s only because fewer old people are sexually active, and of those who are, most use condoms consistently. But here’s the thing: even if you’re over 50 and have never had an HIV infection, you can still get it.
Taking PrEP is essential to prevent HIV and protect not only yourself but your sexual partner. Here are some important things for gay individuals over 50 to know about PrEP:
What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that helps reduce your risk of getting HIV from sex. PrEP contains two medications, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, which are also found in some treatments for HIV.
PrEP medication is highly effective in mitigating your risk for HIV. When taken every day, PrEP reduces your risk of getting HIV by 99%.
How Do I Take PrEP Medication?
For most patients, PrEP medication is a once-daily pill, and must be taken consistently to be effective. However, there are different formulations of PrEP medications that may be more appropriate for you, depending on your lifestyle and health needs.
Why Do I Need PrEP Over 50?
Old People Have Sex
While society may associate specific risk behaviors that result in sexual transmission of HIV with a younger population, the truth is that people of all ages engage in sexual activity, and therefore have a risk of getting an HIV infection.
Unfortunately, this misguided idea that people over 50 are sexless prevents many from getting the information, testing, and care they need to prevent HIV.
You Can Still Get HIV Over 50
There are a lot of myths out there about who can get HIV and how, but the fact is that you can get HIV at any age, no matter how often or how little you have sex. In fact, people over 50 still make up 17 percent of all HIV diagnoses in the United States.
The immune system declines with age, making it harder for your body to fight off HIV and other infections. That’s why it’s so important for people over 50 to get tested for HIV and to talk to their doctor about PrEP HIV prevention.
HIV is Harder on Older Bodies
While it’s true that advances in HIV treatment have made living with HIV much easier than it was in the early days of the HIV epidemic, it’s also true that HIV takes a greater toll on older bodies, and contracting HIV is a serious threat to your health above age 50.
Aging with HIV can lead to a number of serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, and bone density loss. This makes HIV prevention extremely important for those over 50.
Your Partner May Be HIV Positive
Many HIV-positive people over 50 have been living with HIV for years and leading sexually active lives. This may not describe you, but it may describe someone you'd like to have sex with. Couples with a different HIV status than one another are called serodiscordant couples.
If you’re HIV-negative and in a relationship with someone who is HIV positive, HIV prevention options like PrEP can help you have sex without worrying about transmission. PrEP can also help if you’re in an open relationship or otherwise have sex with multiple partners, including partners of unknown HIV status.
It's Never Too Late to Start PrEP
There’s a lot of conflicting information about whether or not PrEP is recommended for people over 50, but the fact is that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends starting PrEP to provide protection for everyone who is at risk for HIV, including people over 50.
Whether you're worried about side effects or stigma, a competent healthcare provider can help address your specific concerns. It's always worth it to be protected and stop HIV.
Get Your PrEP Prescription Online With PrEP2Me
No matter your age or life circumstances, the team at can help you start a PrEP and protect yourself from HIV. We offer convenient so you can get started without having to leave the comfort and safety of your home. Our packaging is also completely discreet, so your privacy is protected when you receive your prescribed PrEP.