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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Parental Guidance Suggested

Dear Mistress Maeve,

My 52-year-old mother recently starting dating again after her 31-year marriage ended. I'm happy for her, but I'm also worried. In particular, I'm concerned that she doesn't understand the frightening realities of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

As her daughter, is it my place to educate her? If so, how do I make it less awkward? We've always had an open relationship, but this might be pushing it. Please help!

Dr. Daughter


Dear Dr. Daughter,

You're right to be concerned. My friends at the Vermont Committee for AIDS Resources, Education and Services say that a 2007 Vermont Department of Health report states, “Older Vermonters (50+ years old) accounted for a greater proportion of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2006-2007 (29 percent of all new diagnoses) compared to 2000-2001 (12 percent of new diagnoses).” With statistics like that, it's imperative that older at-risk adults receive accurate prevention information.

Vermont CARES also says that health-care providers may be less likely to test for HIV and other STIs in patients over 50, making it even more important that you talk with your mom. Tell her that you're happy she's dating again, but times have changed. Now is not the time to be shy with your mom — give her some condoms and info about HIV and other STIs, and encourage her to talk with her doctor. You're not asking her for details of her sex life; you're simply making her aware of the risks because you love her and care about her well-being.

If your mother confides that she's been engaging in risky activities, consider going for an HIV test with her — it could be a good bonding and educational experience for you both. Vermont CARES offers free, anonymous, rapid oral HIV testing. For testing times and locations, visit


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