There are a number of myths perpetuated about AIDS patients
today. The first is that only young people contract the disease, which is entirely untrue. In fact, between 11%
and 15% of all new AIDS cases are in people over age 50. Furthermore, in the last few years, new AIDS cases rose faster in middle age and older people than in people under 40. While many of these AIDS cases are the result of HIV infection at a younger age, many are due to being infected after age 50, often from IV drug infection, or blood transfusion.
The over 50 population living with AIDS is partly attributed to better patient care and thus, longer lifespan. However, persons over age 50 are continuing to engage in sex and contract AIDS largely because, they are not as educated in safe sex methods as younger generations. Despite popular belief, the over 50 population is still sexually active and at risk with no waning in sexual desire, as a 1994 study out of the University of Chicago proved.
The ramification is that heterosexual transmission in men
over 50 is up 94% and 107% in women since 1991. Once the over 50 population contracts the disease, there is a high chance of misdiagnosis. HIV symptoms (fatigue, weight loss, dementia, skin rashes, and swollen lymph nodes) are often similar and misinterpreted to those associated with aging.
Here are some initiatives that should be implemented to help
alleviate the over 50 AIDS threat:
* Implement specific programs for older adults who need to be informed about the transmission and prevention of HIV.
* More research to study seniors’ sexual and drug-use behaviors.
* Programs for health care officials and providers to cover misdiagnoses, testing technologies, treatments, support groups, and case management of their older clients/patients.