Older Latina women and HIV/AIDS: an examination of sexuality and culture as they relate to risk and protective factors

J Gerontol Soc Work. 2009 Jan;52(1):48-63. doi: 10.1080/01634370802561950.


Older Latina women are one of the least studied American demographic groups with regard to social, health, or sexual behavior. This could leave social workers and other geriatric professionals unprepared for dealing with HIV/AIDS in this population. Currently, older Latina women are one of the fastest growing groups of new AIDS cases. Twenty percent of all women ever diagnosed with the disease are Latina and 5.5% of Latinas infected with the virus are older. The number of diagnosed infections is increasing in older women, including Latinas, in spite of recent declines in infection rates with younger populations. There are also a potentially large number of cases that go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. This article also addresses risk and protective factors related to gender roles, traditional Latino family values, religion, socioeconomic factors, health, and health care, with special attention to the triple jeopardy faced by this population by virtue of being female, seniors, and minorities. The article concludes with recommendations for the development of culturally competent practices with older Latinas and the development of a research agenda to better understand their risk-related and health-seeking behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / ethnology*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health