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What can we do to stop HIV spreading among our senior population?

Most HIV campaigns target the young, and leave many seniors with an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude. And the damage is easy to see.


HIV is an issue which is changing and shifting all the time. In countries like the Philippines, we’re no closer to finding solutions or answers for those affected. But, since the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported way back in 1981, we like to think we in the US have come a long way when dealing with this issue. Indeed, drugs and treatments have developed at a rate which has gone some way towards reducing risks.

But, recent years have seen a new, and surprisingly unconsidered situation arising. Due to ongoing treatment, many people living with HIV are now into their senior years. In fact, the latest data from 2014 revealed that 428,724 people over the age of 50 were living with the disease. This figure makes up around 43% of sufferers. And, it’s safe to assume that numbers are even higher now.

There seem to be a few reasons for this influx. On the one hand, survivors from the original outbreak are now reaching their golden years. In a sense, this is inevitable. These individuals have overcome the odds, and are inspirational figures to say that least.

But, under the surface, there’s a more worrying problem. More seniors also seem to be contracting HIV. Studies suggest this is due to differing attitudes and weakened immune systems. Lack of information also appears to be a substantial risk factor. Most HIV campaigns target the young, and leave many seniors with an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude. And the damage is easy to see.

What’s more, many senior sufferers fail to recognize their condition until the late stages. Many merely chalk their symptoms down to old age. As such, they stand at risk of more damage to immune-systems, as well as increasing the chances for complication.

So, what needs to be done? In simple terms, spreading awareness among the older generation is the best bet. That means making sure they understand the increased risks they face, and the need to get themselves tested. Far from the youth filled sexual health clinics, it’s possible that doctors should offer these tests as standard. This would provide a much-needed sense of dignity while ensuring no issues go undetected.

It’s also important to develop treatment plans for individuals. The CDC has been working on this problem, but it’s also important to note difficulties senior patients may face. Often, HIV care regimes are rigorous and involve multiple treatments. And, this can be difficult for older patients to remember.

Assisted living facilities such as McKnight Place ensure that patients care plans are monitored by trained professionals. You can learn about McKnight Place and other such facilities online. But, patients living in their homes may struggle to keep on top of this. What’s more, not all seniors can afford extensive full-time care.

Issues like these make it ever more apparent how crucial prevention is in these cases. It seems, then, that the only real way forward is to increase awareness and stop this issue from spreading any further.


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