Older Women's Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Sexuality, Intimacy, and HIV/AIDS

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Ross, Pamela
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Sex is a natural, physiological, fundamental part of being human and is an experience that does not have to end as one ages. Yet, due to ageism and sexism, older women have not been socialized to believe this. Instead, through social scripting, women are often unassertive, not sexually aggressive, and dependent upon men with regard to sexual and intimate activities. Due to these constructs, women may partake in risky behaviours that could lead to STIs and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, something not fully recognized within the aging population. However, statistics indicate that HIV/AIDS is affecting both the aging population and women. A postmodern feminist perspective was used in this exploratory quantitative study. Women who were 50 years old and older from various Red Hatter groups throughout Nova Scotia and women from the Halifax Sexual Health Centre were questioned on their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours about sexuality, intimacy, and HIV/AIDS. The questionnaire was created using questions from the "Aging Sexual Knowledge and Attitude Scale," "Senior Adult Sexuality Scale," "National Health Interview Survey," and the "Brief Index of Sexual Functioning for Women." One hundred and eighty-six questionnaires were used for the final analysis. Results showed that women's behaviours indicated they were somewhat sexually active and had moderately liberal attitudes about sexuality and sexual activity in older adults. Their knowledge about sexual health and aging was moderately high; however, their scores were lower regarding knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, a regression analysis indicated that one's general sexual knowledge, sexual attitudes, sexual behaviour, as well as having some university of college education and working in healthcare were significant predictors of their knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
HIV infections , AIDS (Disease) , Older women , Health attitudes -- Age factors -- Nova Scotia