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Growing old with AIDS: the perspectives and behaviours of older people in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

Pranitha Maharaj, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Despite the important consequences that HIV/AIDS is likely to have for older people in South Africa, very little empirical work has focused directly on this issue. The overall aim of this study is to provide insights into the perspectives and behaviours of older men and women, both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, by drawing on focus group discussions with men and women aged 50 and above. Levels of awareness of HIV/AIDS is high but older people do not perceive themselves at risk of HIV infection. However, some women reported that they were at risk of HIV infection because of their partner's sexual behaviour. Some older men engage in casual and transactional sex which increases their partner's risk of HIV infection. Most report that they are vulnerable to HIV infection primarily through care giving activities. The study found that the impact of HIV/AIDS is substantial and is compounded greatly by gender dynamics in the household.

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Presented in Session 77: Impact of HIV and AIDS on the wellbeing of older people