Newswise — Newly divorced middle aged women are more vulnerable to contract HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to Christopher Coleman, PhD, MPH, RN, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, because they tend to let their guard down with new sexual partners and avoid using protection since they are unafraid of getting pregnant.
Additionally, as aging occurs, physiological changes due to menopause such as the thinning of vaginal walls make it more susceptible for a woman to contract a virus. Medications that would be used to treat an STD or HIV become hard for a woman to tolerate because an aging body metabolizes medications differently.
"There is a knowlege gap with women knowing what the physiological changes associated with menopause are," said Dr. Coleman. "There is very little research on this subject and society and the government don't talk about it, but these high risk sexual behaviors need to be addressed because the rate of HIV positive middle aged women is inscreasing."
The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the premier research institutions in nursing, producing new knowledge in geriatrics, pediatrics, oncology, quality-of-life choices, and other areas. Penn Nursing researchers consistently receive more research funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other private nursing school, and many master’s programs are ranked first in the country. This year, faculty, students, alumni, and staff celebrate 125 years of nursing at Penn.