HIV Soars in People Over 50

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2009 4:06 PM CST
An elderly couple watch as an HIV testing specialist demonstrates how to collect saliva during an HIV/AIDS.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The number of people over the age of 50 with HIV is growing swiftly worldwide, AFP reports. In America, the percentage of those infected with the virus in that age group rose from 20% to 25% between 2003 and 2006, says a WHO report. In Brazil, the over-50 infection rate doubled between 1996 and 2006.

Long thought of a “disease of the young people,” HIV is often not considered as a possible diagnosis for more mature patients, leading to delayed screenings. Sexual activity is the leading vector for the disease among older people, the study notes, a fact made more significant by the availability of erectile dysfunction drugs, less focus on safe sex in the older population, and older women’s increased susceptibility to infection.