National HIV/Aids and Aging Awareness Day
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25 percent of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are 55 or older. In older adults, HIV is too often diagnosed late in the course of the infection, leading to shorter HIV-to-AIDS intervals.
Seniors are at high risk of HIV/AIDS for several reasons. They may be less aware of the disease and how to protect themselves. Doctors often fail to recommend testing for older patients who, quite frankly, may be too embarrassed to even ask for a test. Seniors who notice symptoms associated with HIV, such as weight loss, pneumonia, fatigue, confusion or vision problems, might chalk up these symptoms to the normal aches and pains of aging, or to other health conditions. They may also hide their concerns, fearing the reaction of loved ones and caregivers—both to the diagnosis and to the behaviors through which they contracted the infection.
No matter the reason, it is important for older people with HIV to get linked to HIV care and have access to mental health and other support services to help them maintain health and remain engaged in HIV care. Services like the HIV Testing Sites and Care Services Locator can help those who are struggling find assistance and support in a more private and confidential way.
For additional information about aging and HIV/AIDS, visit the Administration on Aging for a comprehensive listing of resources, services and programs available.