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Today, September 18, marks National HIV & Aging Awareness Day (NHAAD), an opportunity to focus our attention on the impact of HIV and AIDS on older Americans.

Despite medical and societal advances in prevention, treatment and public education, HIV and AIDS continues to impact hundreds of thousands of Americans over the age of 50. Older adults living with HIV face unique challenges for preventing and treating other diseases, as age and HIV both increase the risk for certain cancers, bone loss and cardiovascular diseases. Medications used to treat HIV must also be carefully managed with others taken to treat common age-related conditions, including diabetes, elevated cholesterol and hypertension.

Fast Facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • One in six new HIV diagnoses in 2014 were people aged 50 and over.

  • Among people aged 50 and over, 49 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2015 were among gay and bisexual men.

  • In 2015, among people aged 50 and over, Black people/African Americans accounted for 43 percentof all new HIV diagnoses. Whites accounted for 36 percent, and Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 17 percent.

  • Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to be diagnosed with HIV later in the course of the disease.

Prevention Challenges:

  • Lack of knowledge about HIV: Many older Americans are unaware of the current realities of HIV prevention, treatment and care, even though research shows that older adults - LGBTQ or not - are sexually active well into their mid-80s. Similarly, medical providers may be less likely to order routine STD and HIV testing for older Americans.

  • Discrimination: While many older Americans report being uncomfortable talking to their healthcare providers about sex, the challenges are particularly acute for LGBTQ Americans over the age of 50, who often delay medical care out of fear of discrimination.

  • Stigma and isolation: Stigma is a particular concern among older Americans because they may already face isolation due to illness or loss of family and friends. Stigma prevents many older Americans from getting tested or treated for HIV.

Ways to Learn More and Get Involved:

HRC is committed to working with our allies, partners, members, and supporters to end the HIV epidemic and the stigma surrounding HIV. Click here to learn more.


Filed under: Health & Aging, HIV & AIDS

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