HIV: Not just a young man's problem anymore
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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV are not just problems for young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals over the age of 50 account for 15 percent of all new HIV cases each year, and represent 24 percent of the HIV-positive population in the U.S. Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article discussing the challenges of caring for aging individuals who have HIV.
According to health officials, many HIV patients over the age of 50 were diagnosed with the virus decades ago and have lived so long thanks to advancements made in HIV treatment. However, some older individuals contracted the virus recently because they were not practicing safer sex. Furthermore, many doctors do not discuss the sexual histories of their older patients or encourage them to visit STD testing centers for fear of offending or insulting them. This suggests that more needs to be done to help doctors communicate with elderly patients who may be at risk of contracting HIV.
Now, health officials are working to determine what services older individuals with HIV will need access to, and what impact HIV has on the aging mind.
"Researchers are trying to tease out the connections among the physiological burdens of aging with HIV: How much can be traced to the drugs, how much is the actual virus stimulating the immune system, how much is the virus' impact when the person was first infected?" according to the news source.
The information provider added that the challenges surrounding the prevention and management of HIV in older individuals was a major topic of conversation at the 19th International AIDS Conference. Hopefully, strategies will be developed to make sure that all older individuals with HIV have access to care.
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