National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day is observed each year on September 18.
National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness day focuses on the challenging issues facing the aging population with regards to HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment. In addition, there is an increased need for prevention, research, and data targeting the aging population, medical understanding of the aging process and its impact on HIV/AIDS.
Of the 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the U.S., an estimated 24 percent are age 55 or over. Join the National HIV/Aids and Aging Awareness Day campaign to learn more about prevention, testing and bring attention to this national health issue.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Visit www.aids.gov for more information on how to get involved. Use #HIV/AIDSAgingAwarenessDay to post on social media.
The National Institutes of Health launched National HIV/Aids and Aging Awareness Day in 2008 to confront HIV-related issues for aging adults.
Sept. 18 is the annual observance of the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD). It is a day of observance that brings light to the challenges that the aging population faces in regards to HIV/AIDS. This day is used to highlight topics such as prevention, testing and treatment of those who are aging with HIV/AIDS.
The face of HIV/AIDS is a graying one. As of 2015, 50 percent of people with HIV in the U.S. will be age 50 and older. By 2020, more than 70 percent of Americans with HIV are expected to 50 and older. LGBT people and people of color are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Americans over 50 have many of the same HIV risk factors as younger Americans.
- Those 55 and older accounted for 1/4 of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in 2011.
- Older Americans are more likely to get diagnosed at a later time in the course of their disease.
- Twenty-seven percent of AIDS diagnoses in United States in 2013 were people aged 50 and older.
- Of the 13,712 deaths caused by AIDS in 2012, about 60 percent were 50 and older.
- Out of every 100,000 people diagnosed with HIV in 2013, 59 percent of African Americans were older. That number was 29 percent for Hispanics, and nearly nine percent for whites.
Challenges facing the elderly
Later Diagnosis and Quick Transition from HIV to AIDS
Americans that are 55 and older have a greater chance of getting diagnosed with HIV late in the course of the disease, which means a later start to treatment and potentially more damage to the person’s immune system. Of individuals of all ages newly diagnosed with HIV, 99 percent of those in their 20s lived for more than a year whereas only 73 percent of people aged 65 and older lived more than a year. Late diagnosis is usually a result of older people not getting tested, and thinking the symptoms of HIV are solely caused by their old age.
Sex and Sexual Risk Factors
Research shows that heterosexual and LGBT older adults are sexually active well into their mid-80s, with a 2007 national study showing 53 percent of adults age 65-74 and 26 percent of adults age 75-85 as being active with one or more partners. NBC news reported on an unprecented study of sex and seniors which finds seniors are staying sexually active well into their golden years.
Many risk factors stay the same as age increases, such as having multiple partners or a lack of knowledge about HIV and how to prevent it. However, there are a few unique issues faced by the elderly:
- Widowed and divorced people dating again are less knowledgeable about HIV.
- Women are no longer worried about getting pregnant, so many don’t feel the need to practice safer sex.
- Older people and their doctors are less likely to talk about the patients’ sexual habits.
- Older adults are often not tested for HIV because of medical providers’ misconceptions that they are no longer sexually active. Providers may be less likely to ask about sexual activity — including numbers of sexual partners, using protection and other factors related to HIV/AIDS.
Stigma is a particular concern among older Americans. This is because:
- Older people may already face isolation due to illness or loss of family and friends.
- Stigma negatively affects people’s quality of life, self-image and behaviors, and may prevent them from seeking HIV care and disclosing their HIV status.
- Many LGBT older people often delay medical care for fear of discrimination.
Aging with HIV infection also presents special challenges for preventing other diseases:
- Older individuals with HIV may have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, thin bones and certain cancers.
- Older HIV patients and their care providers need to maximize prevention efforts against these conditions and remain vigilant for early signs of illness.
- They also need to be careful about interactions between the medications used to treat HIV and those used to treat common age-related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol and obesity.
Source: CDC, National Institute on Aging, New England Journal of Medicine
Raise Awareness About HIV/AIDS and Aging
- Educate older people about the importance of preventing risky behaviors using age-sensitive information and education.
- Fight stigma.
- Deliver effective prevention and evidence-based interventions for antiretroviral adherence therapy for older Americans.
- Encourage physicians to screen patients of all ages for HIV infections.
HIV/AIDS in the Elderly Population
Older Adults Are Taking Risks
Since the age of Viagra, older people are engaging in risky behaviors and are not getting the HIV prevention message.
Increasing HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Seniors
HIV/AIDS is on the rise among seniors in New York with seniors facing added risks.
Educational Video about HIV/AIDS in Elders
A student’s view on HIV/AIDS in the elderly population and opinions on how to stop it.
Should Elders Worry about HIV/AIDS?
Physician talks about the importance of being aware of HIV/AIDS even at an older age.