Senate Special Committee on Aging Hears Testimony on Growing Number of HIV-Positive People Older Than 50
Dr. Robert Janssen, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention on Thursday during a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, told lawmakers that the number of HIV-positive people older than 50 is "growing sharply," the AP/KPVI-TV reports (AP/KPVI-TV, 5/12). "One of the challenges in people 50 and older is the mistaken belief that they're not at risk," Janssen said, adding that many older people do not see the "importance of using condoms," especially older women who are not concerned about becoming pregnant. A lack of awareness about HIV/AIDS among older people and stereotypes associated with this group -- such as decreased sexual activity -- also might contribute to the spread of the disease, according to committee Chair Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) (Zwillich, WebMD Medical News, 5/13). Jeanine Reilly, executive director of the Broadway House for Continuing Care in Newark, N.J., at the hearing said some researchers refer to nursing homes as the "new breeding ground for AIDS," adding that "simple" HIV/AIDS educational material geared toward an older population is needed, the AP/KPVI-TV reports. She said that older HIV/AIDS patients also require different standards of care (AP/KPVI-TV, 5/12). Smith said he likely will include provisions for improved HIV/AIDS education for older people in the Ryan White CARE Act, which Congress is expected to reauthorize later this year. About 28% of HIV/AIDS patients in the United States are older than 50, and that figure could increase to half of all U.S. patients by 2015, Smith said. According to CDC data from 32 states, the number of HIV-positive people older than 50 increased from 40,000 in 2000 to more than 67,000 in 2003 (WebMD Medical News, 5/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.