“We will die having sex” – perspectives on sex, sexuality and HIV among older adults

Makandwe Nyirenda, South African Medical Research Council, Burden Of Disease Unit
Sizakele Sukazi, South African Medical Research Council
Cebo Buthelezi, HIV Prevention Research Unit, SAMRC
Jill Hanass-Hancock, Gender and Health Research Unit, SAMRC

Current knowledge on sexuality among older adults aged =50 years in sub-Saharan Africa is lacking. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the attitudes, norms, perceived control and intentions regarding sexual activity and HIV of older people aged 50 years and older in Sub-Saharan Africa within a context of co-infection with non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Data came from a cross-sectional study that used a mixed methods approach conducted in two purposively selected areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A total of 60 individuals participated in the 4 focus group discussions across the 2 sites. This study was guided by the Theory of Planned Behaviour, which posits that people are rational and systematic in their decision to perform an action such as to engage or not in sexual activity. Our findings show clear gender differences regarding sexual perceptions and norms. While men believed sex was very important for older persons, women did not view it as important. Men believed they “will die having sex” – meaning they could go on having sex for as long as they live. Whereas women expressed low libido and dislike for sex. Chronic morbidity especially diabetes and hypertension were mentioned as barriers to sexual intentions and desires among older people.

Keywords: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Older adults, Health and morbidity, Qualitative data/methods/approaches

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 19. Men as Part of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Equation