Experts Say Middle-Aged Women at Risk

By Burnett, Sara | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

Experts Say Middle-Aged Women at Risk


Burnett, Sara, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Sara Burnett Daily Herald Staff Writer

Generally, it happens like this:

A man and a woman get divorced. The kids, all grown, move out of the house, and the woman is all alone.

One day, she meets a nice, single man about her age, someone with his act together who treats her nicely.

She's ecstatic, so maybe it doesn't occur to her to ask about his sexual past or the issue of protection.

Or maybe she feels awkward broaching the subject after all these years - and with such a nice guy, perhaps she figures it's unnecessary.

So she says nothing.

And then down the road she learns he was HIV positive.

By now, so is she.

It's a scenario AIDS educators around the country, including staff at the Open Door Clinic in Elgin and Aurora, have heard and seen increasingly in recent years.

And while homosexual men, intravenous drug users and minorities still are at the highest risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the fastest-growing group of infected people may be middle-aged women, said David Roesler, Open Door's executive director.

Most often, the women are divorced or widowed and re-entering the dating scene for the first time in more than a decade. They may have attended high school and college before the era of AIDS education and don't have the skills or comfort level necessary to discuss condom use.

"We haven't educated them," Roesler said. "They assume the men they're dating are fine. They're not even thinking about HIV or (sexually transmitted diseases). …

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Experts Say Middle-Aged Women at Risk
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