Programming Connection

ACNL’s Sex over 50 

AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL)
Newfoundland and Labrador

Across Canada the number of HIV infections in older adults has increased, and Newfoundland and Labrador are not immune to this trend. Health organizations in the province have witnessed an increase of older people testing positive for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL) recognized the need to help the aging population be safer in their sexual practices and tasked their HIV & Aging Working Group to look at ways to teach seniors about safer sex. 

In partnership with the province’s Seniors Resource Centre, ACNL came up with the idea of creating a sexual health manual after surveying older people in the region and holding several focus groups. Launched in December 2016, Best Sex in Years: Sex over 50 is distributed at senior centres across the province and is available online. The resource covers a variety of topics, including a section on STBBIs, condom usage, online dating, sex toys and how to be more comfortable talking about sex with your partner and doctor. There is also a section for healthcare providers underscoring the importance of creating a sex-positive and inclusive space for older people to discuss their sexuality.

Because seniors reading the booklet may need more information or have further questions, ACNL and the Seniors Resource Centre also provide face-to-face workshops on the same topics. In 2016-2017, they gave 40 workshops across the island and reached over 2,000 older adults, both in urban and remote locations.

The ultimate goal of the manual and workshops is to prevent the spread of HIV and STIs. “HIV can be devastating at an older age, so it’s important for older folks to know what their status is,” explained Gerard Yetman, the executive director of ACNL. “Seniors can be role models for younger generations.”

The response from older people having taken the workshops or read the manual is very positive, with many people citing an increase in self-confidence and overall sexual knowledge. ACNL will continue to offer the workshops, with 14 face-to-face meetings already scheduled for the next year.

If you would like more information about this program, contact ACNL at 1-800-563-1575.