HIV/AIDS In The Elderly Community Essay
When people think of those populations most impacted by HIV/AIDS, older people are often the last to come to mind. However, older people are at increasing risk for HIV/AIDS and other STDs. A growing number of older people now have HIV/AIDS in the U. S because older people do not get tested for it on a regular basis , there may even be more cases than currently known. Many factors contribute to the increasing risk of infection in the elderly. In general, older Americans know less about HIV/AIDS and STDs than younger age groups because the elderly have been neglected by those responsible for education and prevention messages.
In addition , older people are less likely than younger people to talk about their sex lives or drug use with their doctors , and doctors don’t tent to ask their older patients about sex (if sexually active) or drug use. Finally, older people often mistake the symptoms of HIV/AIDS for the aches and pains of normal aging , so they are less likely to get tested. According to the centers for diseases control and prevention (CDC) , there were 1,039,987 reported AIDS cases in 2003 of which ,315,509 (30%0 were in people over 45. In 1999, the CDC reported that there were 11,056 reported AIDS cases in people over 45 and older.
In 2001 , an estimated 12,176 people over 45 were living with AIDS . As you can see these numbers get higher and higher beacoming an epidemic. Black people are still disproportionately affected. I say disproportionately because they are the ones with the largest numbers. Fifty two percent of older Americans living with HIV/AIDS are either black or Hispanic (according to CDC). Among men over 50 living with HIV and AIDS 49 percent are black. Among women 70 percent are black. People over 50 come from a generation where discussing sex was an “under the table” thing. Nobody wants to discuss the sexual habits of older people.
It’s the concept that old people stopped having sex after a certain age and its just not a reality. There were no free clinics , contraceptives and methods to prevent pregnancy back in the day and that is why an increasing amount of elderly are now coming up with HIV/AIDS because they never got checked. It was rare back then for someone to have aids so that’s another reason why they wouldn’t get checked no one thought it could happen to them. Older people do not consider themselves at risk and they are. Another factor that has to do with HIV/AIDS in the elderly community is Viagra.
Viagra has contributed a lot to this because there so much more sexual activity among the elderly and yet they are not often using contraception because they aren’t worried about pregnancy. Because of the lack of awareness in older adults in the older adults , they have been omitted from research , trials and preventions and for older women the use of condoms becomes unimportant after menopause. The symptoms of HIV are hard to detect because of aging sometimes its difficult for physicians to determine if a person has the flu or is infected with the virus.
Many of the early symptoms such as night sweats, chronic fatigue , weight loss and swollen lymph mimic the natural aging process. Specific programs must be implemented for older adults who need to be informed about the transmission and prevention of HIV. More research is needed to study seniors sexual and drug using behaviors to determine HIV disease progression and treatments and programs aimed at reaching health care and service providers should cover misdiagnoses support groups and more.