February 11, 2011
People in their 50s and beyond comprise the majority of San Franciscans living with AIDS for the first time since the start of the epidemic. In 2010, 53 percent of AIDS cases in the city were among people 50 and older, up from 49 percent in 2009. Of the 9,734 people with AIDS in the city last year, 5,153 were in the 50-and-over age group.
"I think it is a continuing trend," said Susan Scheer, PhD, MPH, director of the HIV Epidemiology Section (HES) at the city's Department of Public Health. "It reflects improved treatment so that is the good news. People who were diagnosed a longer time ago and have been able to get good care and treatment are surviving longer."
HES data show that people in their 40s accounted for 36 percent of the AIDS population in 2010, at 3,516 cases. Men comprise 92 percent of all the city's AIDS cases.
Despite the graying of San Francisco's AIDS population, funding for programs targeting older patients has not kept pace. A June report by the HIV Health Services Planning Council and the Mayor's Long Term Care Coordinating Council noted that while "a few support groups" for older AIDS patients exist, it concluded that "the number is inadequate and limited in that these groups primarily targeted older gay men. No services from any funding stream targeting other demographics were identified."
Scheer said that thanks to the report's findings, the issue is garnering more attention. "It is the fastest-growing population of people with AIDS," she said. "There does need to be a focus on making sure this population has the health services and prevention services that they need."