The Newly Single Widowed Older Adult African American Woman Navigating Intimacy After a Long-term Monogamous Relationship

Little is known how the newly single widowed older adult African American/Black Woman (WOAAW) navigates intimacy after a long-term monogamous relationship, where there is an increased risk of sexually transmitted illnesses. The purpose of this research is to understand the decision-making and planning process involved in navigating sexual intimacy. The newly single older woman who is widowed faces challenges when planning the emotional and social journey of redefining her future. Ending a long-term relationship may leave women uncertain of the future, feeling lonely and vulnerable. Widows are subject to socially unfavorable situations leading to negative health outcomes including STIs. African Americans/Blacks have the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. In 2010, African American women accounted for 6,100 (29%) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. This number represents a decrease of 21% since 2008. Most new HIV infections among African American women (87% or 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual contact. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American women (38.1/100,000 population) was twenty times that of White women and almost five times that of Hispanic/Latino women (CDC, 2015). Spiritually guided decision making for intimacy was identified as the core concept as the WOAAW reported the process of how spirituality was an integral component of decision making after widowhood despite the possibility of STI/HIV exposure. It was identified that the imbalance of spirituality over practical health-promoting behaviors may affect intimacy decision making, predisposing widows to STI/HIV.

Loneliness, Decision-Making, Intimacy, Monogamous, Relationship, Black/African American, STI, HIV

Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging

Focused Discussion