Despite the fear that HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) inspires among most people, the disease has historically been a “sexy” disease—a disease that afflicts the young because of their sexual naiveté and virility. But statistics paint a different picture, one of an aging population in need of better education and comprehensive health care.
Did You Know…?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans aged 50 and older:
- Comprised more than ¼ (26%) of all diagnosed and undiagnosed cases of HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) in 2014.
- Have the same risks for HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) as younger patients, although they are often less aware of their risks.
- Tend to seek treatment later in the course of the disease*.
Early diagnosis is often the key to a better prognosis. Lack of awareness of risks, symptoms and treatment options put older Americans at greater risk for faster disease progression and more opportunistic infections.
What Needs to Happen
Preventing infection and improving the prognosis of those 50 and older will require changes in education and medical care delivery. People aged 50 and older need:
- To know their risks and how to manage them.
- To know about testing options and have access to early testing.
- Medical care that integrates HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) treatments with geriatric care.
Fortunately, national health organizations are responding to the need for increased awareness about HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) among older Americans. Two major initiatives—National HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) Strategy and Federal Action Plan—call for education and prevention that targets all at-risk age groups. The US Preventative Services Task Force has also recommended making HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) testing part of routine medical exams as well as adding screening items to medical exams for patients 65 an older to assess risk level.
UNM Truman Health Services strives to increase HIV/Stage 3 (AIDS) awareness in our community. Please contact us for information about education and prevention resources and early testing.