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Grandma Has AIDS

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Think only the young and wild contract STDs? Nope -- it's Nana and Papa too.

Senior couple kissing

If you assume old people don't need to stress about STDs, talk to Jane Fowler, a now 73-year-old woman, who -- after being married for 23 years -- hit the dating scene. Soon after, she was diagnosed with HIV.

"Women who had gone through menopause or a procedure to not get pregnant didn't use rubbers. That's what we called them," Fowler said. "They were strictly used for contraception, so if you didn't need contraception, why did you need a condom?"

Now older and wiser, Fowler vowed to change this line of thinking among baby boomers and older generations. So she helped found the National Association of HIV Over 50 and HIV Wisdom For Older Women.

And her efforts are needed now more than ever -- check out these recent stats:

• The rates of sexually transmitted diseases have doubled among the over 45 population in less than a decade.

• Genital warts is the most commonly diagnosed infection among the over 45 set -- it accounts for almost half of all STDs.

• Herpes is the next most common STD, accounting for almost one in five.

• Cases of Chlamydia, herpes, warts, gonorrhea and syphilis have risen sharply.

Given these numbers, why do we exclude the elder from conversations about safe sex?

According to Dr. Dorree Lynn, a psychologist and founder of "50 and Furthermore," people don't realize how much sex is happening in nursing homes.

"Sex in nursing homes is more common than ever," Lynn writes. "The perception among seniors is that having unprotected sex doesn't matter. They don't need birth control, so they don't use condoms. Wrong. Assisted living residences, retirement homes and families are in denial. Behind closed doors or curtains, elder couples are in fact doing it."

What's more, the symptoms of AIDS are often falsely diagnosed because they mimic the natural signs of aging (i.e.: chronic fatigue, weight loss, and dementia).

Can this topic be embarrassing and awkward? Sure. A deal breaker? Not really.

You can still have sex into your golden years, just use condoms or an antiviral lubricant to lower the chances of transmitting the virus. And honesty is key -- coming clean about one's status is crucial before two people strip down.

And that's the naked truth.

next: Drug Dealers Want Your Kid
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