Researchers found out that more menopausal women are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) than a decade ago. The exponential rise in the HIV rate is related to unprotected sex. However, the cause behind the five-fold increase in the rate within a decade is more complex than not using condoms during sex.

Positive Transitions Through the Menopause (PRIME) is a study that looks into HIV and sexual activity of aging women. The study recently surveyed HIV clinics across the United Kingdom. Women between 45 to 60 visiting the clinics were interviewed by the researchers.

The researchers concluded that there are around 10,500 menopausal women who are living with the virus. Researchers predict that another 10,000 women reaching menopausal age will be infected with the virus by 2023.

biological clock age
HIV rates on the rise among menopausal woman Istock

The Sun pointed out that some of the women with the virus had come out of long relationships or were bereaved widows. Due to their loss, they might have not thought about the risks of unprotected sex.

The rising rate of divorce has also increased the number of aging women who engage in sexual intercourse with strangers. The liberal attitude towards sex, coupled with the lack of fear of pregnancy can result in unprotected sex between strangers.

Researches also pointed out that some women contracted the virus due to their partner's infidelity.

However, the study does not conclusively talk about whether the number of aging women with HIV had already contracted the disease before menopause or were infected after menopause.

PRIME's lead researcher Shema Tariq informed The Sun that HIV treatment also played a role in the increased number of menopausal HIV patients.

Tariq pointed out that antiretroviral medication prevented the virus from replicating in the patient's body. As a result, more aging women with the virus are able to live well past their menopause. In absence of the treatment, women with the virus would not live long enough.

Debbie Laycock, head of The Terrence Higgins Trust, appreciated the findings of the PRIME study. She spoke about the importance of providing support to aging women who are living with the virus.

The Daily Mail pointed out that in 2017, Iain Murtagh, chief executive of The Crescent Charity, spoke about the importance of educating aging women about the necessity of condoms beyond birth control. Many people in the UK do not use protection since they are unaware of how big a problem HIV still is, according to Murtagh. Murtagh emphasised the importance of using protection to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.