The irony of the “Happy Meal”: Sex for the woman 60+ and HIV

Women and HIV Prevention Research: Cocktails for Success workshop needed far more time but was excellently facilitated by Hadiyah Charles and Naina Kanna.  The information they delivered opened the dialogue to highlight the apparent research questions that are simply unanswered as it relates to the attention of women’s needs in prevention research in the United States. How can HIV Prevention Research and Treatment make women a priority?  Clearly we need to uncover the many layers of women’s lives in the United States, and how HIV affects women specifically.  The first item in our “Make-Up Kit” in the “Toolkit” of HIV prevention research and treatment… the “Happy Meal”.

A lovely African American woman over the age of 60 shared a story with the group.  It follows, in the senior community the men get their checks at the beginning of the month and the younger woman (25-45) years old come in, provide the men with company and many times sex.  Those younger women, the at-risk, "non-identified risk" woman sees these visits as a means to her survival considering, "single black women have a median wealth of $100 and Hispanic women $120 respectively, while their same-race male conterparts have $7,900 and $9,730.  The median wealth of single white women is $41,500. Source:

How does the "Happy Meal" fit in?  Funny you ask... well, when all the money is gone and the man still has to eat and have sex, he visits with the women who also live in the senior communities and makes dinner dates which are playfully called a "Happy Meal." These "Happy Meals" are how women who are 60 + are being exposed to and increasingly becoming infected with HIV.  The seasoned woman has no threat of becoming pregnant and therefore has no need for a condom... or so she thinks.  My question going into the second day of the HIV Research Catalyst Forum... We know that there's the at-risk woman, the non-identified risk, and the Happy Meal, not to mention the rising rates among adolescent women with the concerns of rape, incest, and sexual abuse as a method of transmission.

How do we as advocates begin to answer these questions?  How does HIV treatment and prevention research make women a priority based on the realities of our risks?


These are my questions the second day of the HIV Research Catalyst Forum.


Jasmine Burnett

Aunt Betty's Basement

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