Objective: Over 11% of persons reported with AIDS in the United States are age 50 years and older. Epidemiologic and survey data suggests that among older Americans, African American men are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, and that illicit drug use within this group is considerable. Where past cases of AIDS in persons age 50 and older were mostly attributable to receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, newer cases appear to more attributable to lifestyle and high-risk personal behavior. Late-onset crack cocaine use is an emerging drug use pattern that may play an important role in the changing epidemiology of AIDS in older people. Methods: In 1998, the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at Emory University funded an exploratory study to examine the onset of crack cocaine use among African American men after they reached age 50. This paper reports on ethnographic observations from the CFAR study. Results: Older men were often initiated into crack cocaine use by younger women; although they appeared knowledgeable of HIV modes of exposure, older men were reluctant to practice risk reduction; the use of crack cocaine by older men was not perceived as counter-normative behavior by the larger community. Conclusion: These observations suggest older African American men are at considerable risk for late-onset crack cocaine use and, as use increases, modes of HIV exposure in older men mirrors sexual risk behaviors of younger males.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to: 1. Conceive of broader research and intervention initiatives targeting older at-risk populations. 2. Reconsider current profiles of crack cocaine users. 3. Understand changing modes of HIV exposure among older Americans
Keywords: Aging, HIV Risk Behavior
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA