Queens Chronicle (02.07.13)
To help prevent older adults from contracting STDs, some New York City senior centers are providing free condoms and informational sessions to its members. According to an agency spokesperson, the city’s Department of Health (DOH) distributes both male and female condoms as well as lubricant to more than 3,500 sites through its NYC Condom Availability Program. In 2012, the program sent 245,000 condoms to senior centers in the five boroughs.
Jacqueline Eradiri, executive director of the Ridgewood Older Adult Center, explained that men are at a premium and some men are having sex with more than one partner. This may result in STD transmission. To create awareness of safe sex, Eradiri periodically invites healthcare professionals to the center to speak about safe sex and demonstrate how to put on a condom. She keeps condoms and an equal number of individual lubricant packets in her desk drawer. DOH provides 1,000 of each to the center; clients ask for them when they need them. However, not all centers function in this way. Judy Ascherman, assistant director of the Howard Beach Senior Center, stated that she does not feel comfortable distributing condoms to clients, so she does not accept the free condoms that DOH offers to the center.
To better educate seniors, an independent collective of professional sexuality educators, researchers, authors, trainers, and counselors have created the SaferSex4Seniors.org site to teach elders about protected intercourse.
Pat Bishop, the executive director at the Rockaway Boulevard Senior Center in South Ozone Park, noted that DOH does not provide condoms for her facility, but its parent group, Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults (JSPOA), has a grant-funded department with staffers who visit the location to talk about safe sex and HIV transmission. Betty DeBaptiste, a retired nurse and HIV coordinator with JSPOA, gives safe sex classes. She mentioned that the education sessions include a film in which elder adults discuss the topic as well as demonstrate how to use both male and female condoms. She explained that she usually notifies the audience that they may leave the room, if they feel uncomfortable during the demonstrations, but only one or two have ever left.