HIV Sexual Risks Among Older Women On Probation and Parole
Methods: A total of 334 women on probation and parole in an urban county in the southern U.S. were recruited primarily through flyers in public locations and direct mailings. Participants completed structured interviews with female interviewers and entered their responses using audio computer-assisted interview technology. HIV sexual risk behaviors were measured via self-reports to study-designed questions and were compared among younger (19-34), mid-life (35-44), and older (45-69) women in bivariate analyses.
Results: Participants were predominantly African American (41%) and Caucasian (51%); they were single (40%), separated/divorced (36%), living with a female partner (13%) or married/living with a male partner (11%). Their ages ranged from 19-69 (mean= 37.4 years, SD=10.3). More than 80% of the women had less than $1000.00 in income during the last month. Of the 222 women who reported vaginal sex in the last 90 days, 81% reported inconsistent condom use. Inconsistent condom use was also high with anal (92%) and oral (90%) sex. While older women were statistically-significantly less likely to report vaginal, anal or oral sex in the last 90 days, those who did engage in sexual activity were as likely to report inconsistent condom use as women in the younger groups. Additionally, there were no statistically-significant differences in their number of lifetime or recent sexual partners or in their number of recent sexual partners who use injection drugs. Older women were more likely to report a lifetime history of sex trading than younger women. They were also more likely to report sex trading in the last year than mid-life women, but less likely than the youngest women. Older women began trading sex later in life and were involved in sex trading for a longer period of time than younger women.
Conclusions and Implications: Though they report less sexual activity, older women on probation and parole who are sexually active report HIV sexual risks that are comparable to younger women. Future research would benefit from age-specific evaluation of HIV prevention efforts among this group of women, who remain at risk into later life. The longer period of time that older women have engaged in trading sex may increase their potential for physical and psychological risks associated with sex trading and should be considered in HIV prevention and other health and social services with this population.