via Huffpost Gay Voices, by Perry N. Halkitis Ph.D, M.S
Due to increases in life expectancy and aging of the "baby boomer" generation, or those born between 1946 and 1964, approximately one third of the United States population will be 55 years or older by 2014.
While no direct population figures exists, extrapolations drawn from multiple sources suggests that within the population of older Americans, approximately 1.2 to 1.4 million will be older gay men, a figure more pronounced in urban areas such as New York City, where it is estimated that approximately 5 percent of gay men are 50 or older.
A significant proportion of these older gay men, both nationally and in New York City, live with HIV, and as a group this generation of gay men, to whom I have previously referred as "the AIDS generation," have all been directly impacted by the epidemic.
Despite these critical population characteristics, we poorly understand the health care needs of aging Americans, who, by all indications, will live longer and will have very different expectations regarding their care than previous generations.
And while we fail to truly understand the needs of an the overall aging American populace, we have even more limited information on the health disparities experienced by aging baby boomers who are gay, and only minuscule amounts of knowledge about those who are older, gay, and HIV-positive.
Without such knowledge, we are not equipped to provide effective and meaningful health care to men of my generation.
The facts speak for themselves. Older gay men are more likely than heterosexual peers to have experienced a range of negative mental and physical health conditions throughout their lifetimes.
Most notable of these is the AIDS epidemic, which has unduly impacted men of my generation. To date, gay men account for nearly 50 percent of AIDS-related deaths as well as HIV infections, despite representing only 2 percent of the U.S. population.
Gay men also experience heightened levels of riskier health conditions such as substance abuse and other mental health disorders as compared with their heterosexual peers. Finally, many of this generation of gay men came of age at a time when homosexuality was considered a psychiatric illness.
It was not until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
In effect, the confluence of these factors (homosexuality as a disease, the AIDS epidemic, and the socially imposed stigma of being gay) have unduly and negatively impacted the lives of older gay men, creating emotional and psychosocial stressors that undermine the well-being of men of my generation, a reality that extends into the lives of a new generation of gay men.
While recent advances in gay civil rights are a sign of progress, the fact remains that as a group we still remain under attack -- attacks that perpetuate the stress in our lives and compromise our health. Ecological studies indicate that gay men who live and love in states where gay civil rights are more advanced experience better health outcomes.
The recent passage of marriage equality in the state of New York may, over time, impart such a benefit to future generations of gay men and may counter the venom of politicians such as Rick Santorum and the rest of the Republican presidential hopefuls.
But those of us of advanced age cannot undo the years of victimization and stigmatization, both subtle and not-so-subtle, that we have experienced in our families, in our communities, in our workplaces, and in our nation.
Therefore, it imperative that the delivery of health care to my generation of gay men -- the AIDS generation -- focus on the totality of our existence and consider our life experiences, including how the devastation of the AIDS crisis and a lifetime of bigotry have compromised and shaped our health.
Yet we have little data on the health of older gay men, or gay men in general. Because national, population-based studies do not incorporate questions assessing sexual orientation, and because studies focused on sexual behaviors among older adults include only small numbers of gay men, we lack nationally representative data on the risks, resilience, and needs, as well as the physical, mental, and neurocognitive health, of this population.
In the absence of such knowledge, the delivery of service to an aging gay population will fail to be informed by science, and moreover, policies regarding health care and federal funding will continue to neglect our needs.
Read the rest
select key words
2007 National HIV Prevention Conference 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit 2011 LGBTI Health Summit 2012 Gay Men's Health Summit 2012 International AIDS Conference abstinence only ACT Up activism advocacy Africa african-american aging issues AIDS AIDS Foundation of Chicago anal cancer anal carcinoma anal health anal sex andrew's anus athlete ball scene bareback porn barebacking bathhouses bears big bold and beautiful Bisexual Bisexual Health Summit bisexuality black gay men black msm blood ban blood donor body image bottom Brian Mustanski BUTT Center on Halsted Charles Stephens Chicago Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse Chris Bartlett chubby chaser circumcision civil rights civil union Coaching with Jake communication community organizing condoms Congress crystal meth dating dating and mating with alan irgang David Halperin David Munar depression disclosure discrimination domestic violence don't ask don't tell douche downlow Dr. James Holsinger Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles Dr. Rafael Diaz Dr. Ron Stall drag queen Ed Negron emotional health ENDA Eric Rofes exercise Feast of Fun Feel the love... female condom fitness Friday is for Faeries FTM gay culture gay identity gay latino gay male sex gay marriage gay men gay men of color gay men's health Gay Men's Health Summit 2010 gay pride gay rights gay rugby gay sex gay youth gender harm reduction hate crime HCV health care health care reform health insurance hepatitis C HIV HIV care HIV drugs HIV negative HIV positive HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV strategic plan HIV testing hiv vaccine HIV/AIDS homophobia homosexuality hottie hotties how are you healthy? Howard Brown Health Center HPV human rights humor hunk Illinois IML immigration International AIDS Conference international mr. leather internet intimacy IRMA Jim Pickett leather community leathersex Leon Liberman LGBT LGBT adoption LGBT culture LGBT health LGBT rights LGBT seniors LGBT youth LGBTI community LGBTI culture LGBTI health LGBTI rights LGBTI spirituality LGV LifeLube LifeLube forum LifeLube poll LifeLube subscription lifelube survey Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano love lube lubricant Lymphogranuloma Venereum masturbation mental health microbicides middle Monday Morning Perk-Up MRSA MSM music National AIDS Strategy National Gay Men's Health Summit negotiated safety nutrition One Fey's Tale oral sex Peter Pointers physical health Pistol Pete pleasure PnP podcast policy politics poppers porn post-exposure prophylaxis PrEP President Barack Obama Presidential Campaign prevention Project CRYSP prostate prostate cancer public health public sex venues queer identity racism Radical Faerie recovery rectal microbicides relationships religion research safe sex semen Senator Barack Obama sero-adaptation sero-sorting seroguessing sex sexual abuse sexual addiction sexual health sexual orientation Sister Glo Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence smoking social marketing spirituality STD stigma stonewall riots substance abuse treatment substance use suicide super-bug superinfection Susan Kingston Swiss declaration syphilis Ted Kerr Test Positive Aware Network testicle self-examination testicular cancer testing The "Work-In" The 2009 Gay Men's Health Agenda Tony Valenzuela top Trans and Intersex Association trans group blog Trans Gynecology Access Program transgender transgender day of remembrance transgendered transmen transphobia transsexual Trevor Hoppe universal health care unsafe sex vaccines video violence viral load Who's That Queer Woof Wednesday writers yoga You Tube youtube