Research Explores Challenges of Aging HIV/AIDS Population's Needs
May 7, 2010
About one-third of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States are age 50 or over, but that proportion is expected to grow to one-half of those infected by 2015, according to a new report by Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). However, little is known about the long-term effects of HIV and highly active antiretroviral therapy in older adults, it says.
"One of the challenges around HIV is people continue to think about it as a 'young' illness, an illness that only affects those that are young and sexually active," said Marjorie Hill, GMHC's CEO.
The report recommends more training for providers who care for older patients. One survey found that 96 percent of older HIV patients experienced stigma when seeking care, and 71 percent said they were discriminated against due to their age. More resources need to be put into researching issues related to aging and HIV, advocates say. In addition, prevention and treatment messages need to target older adults.
"The fastest growing incidence is among young men, [ages] 18-24," said Hill. "However ... 16 percent of new cases in New York City occur in persons over 50. Those individuals are more likely to not get into care, and when they do, to be in and out of care."
"Many of us older adults are not going to volunteer information about our sexual behaviors, our sexual lives. We're just not going to," commented Royal Sams, an HIV patient who said he is over 70. "We were brought up during a period where you didn't ask those kinds of questions."
The full report, "Growing Older with the Epidemic: HIV and Aging," can be accessed at www.gmhc.org/files/editor/file/a_pa_aging10_emb2.pdf.
05.05.2010; Kafi Drexel