September 21, 2012
The observance of the fifth National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day is a day when the challenges faced by people growing older with HIV are recognized, according to Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Medications have increased the lifespans of people living with HIV, and it is estimated that, by 2015, over half of all people living with HIV in the United States will be over age 50. Older Americans are at greater risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, as well as decreased bone density. African Americans and Latinos over age 50 display the same disparities noted in the United States HIV epidemic overall -- 12 times higher for African Americans and 5 times higher for Latinos compared with whites. This group is less likely to have access to clinical care, which impacts life expectancy and HIV transmission.
HIV prevention in people over age 50 also presents unique challenges. Clinicians are less likely to test persons over 50 for HIV since the overwhelming majority of new HIV infections in the United States are in younger people. Decreased testing results in older adults being diagnosed later in their disease progression. About 10% of the new HIV infections in the United States occur in persons over 50.
Research and programs addressing aging and HIV are increasing. The issue of HIV and aging was included in the 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States, and various agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Institutes of Health, are working to move the agenda forward. However, more needs to be done, and Federal efforts will continue to help people aging with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
[PNU Editor's Note: This blog may be found at: www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/09/18/national-hivaids-and-aging-awareness-day-recognizing-challenges-growing-older-hivaid].