GLOBAL: HIV incidence rising in 50+ age group

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The number of older people with HIV may be increasing worldwide, but doctors seldom consider screening them for HIV, thus delaying diagnosis, according to an article in the World Health Organisation's March Bulletin.

These individuals are also less likely to practise safe sex, and the older the individual, the faster the progression from HIV infection to AIDS.

The article noted that in the United States, the proportion of HIV-positive individuals aged 50 years or older climbed from 20 percent in 2003 to 25 percent in 2006, while preliminary findings of data from countries in the developing world reveal a surprisingly high proportion of infected individuals in this age group.

While life-prolonging antiretroviral therapy may be contributing to the number of older individuals with HIV, scientists also suspect many are becoming infected at an advanced age.

Erectile-dysfunction drugs have been extending the sex life of many older individuals and may also be extending the HIV epidemic into older age groups.

WHO called for more research into the impact of these drugs on the HIV epidemic, as they were becoming more widely available in the developing world.