There is an increase in prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among older adults. This new emerging social group is being overlooked, owing to the focus on groups that have traditionally been regarded as “high risk”. This article set out to explore the impact of and reaction to HIV infection among older adults at the point of diagnosis. This study used a qualitative exploratory design that included a purposive sample of older adults currently receiving HIV treatment. The researchers recruited 12 participants who met the study’s inclusion criteria. Face-to-face interviews were used to collect data. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data. The study found that the impact on and reaction of older adults following HIV diagnosis included anger and shock, feeling suicidal, blaming others, fear of stigma and discrimination, loss of trust and intimacy, fear of disclosure to new partners and denial. The study concluded that there is a need to improve sexual health and HIV services that cater for the needs of older adults as a new emerging group affected by HIV. Furthermore, HIV testing and prevention counselling should be offered to older adults just as it is to younger patients.
- health promotion
- risk perception