Maryland: HIV/AIDS Population Aging
October 11, 2011
People older than age 50 are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. HIV/AIDS population. In fact, CDC estimates that by 2015, they will comprise more than half of those infected.
Two years ago, after diagnosing HIV in persons they never suspected of being infected, doctors at Baltimore's Chase Brexton Health Services began screening all patients for HIV, including those with no risk factors. Eva Hersh, the center's chief medical officer, noted that vaginal dryness resulting from low estrogen levels can put post-menopausal women at risk of vaginal tears through which HIV can enter.
"There is a need for us to prepare for the baby boomers who have HIV," acknowledged Angela Wakhweya, deputy director of the Maryland Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration.
Health officials also are studying how HIV/AIDS affects the aging body. Long-term survivors seem to have increased chances of developing inflammation-induced conditions like kidney, bone, liver, and lung disease. Some are more prone to certain cancers. Medical studies have suggested seniors with HIV/AIDS are three to four times more likely to develop osteoporosis. Stigma, sometimes leading to self-isolation, is a factor as well.
Public health officials are stepping-up their focus on older residents with HIV/AIDS: Support groups targeting these patients have launched, and Baltimore now offers free HIV tests at city senior centers.
09.24.2011; Andrea K. Walker
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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