N.J. Summit on HIV/AIDS in People Over Age 50 Gathers AIDS Experts, Physicians for First Time in State
The number of HIV-positive people over age 50 who are living in New Jersey is five times as high as 10 years ago, and many older people remain unaware of their HIV status, according to experts who attended the New Jersey Summit on HIV/AIDS and Aging on Thursday, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. The conference marked the first time in the state that HIV/AIDS experts, social scientists, gerontologists and people living with HIV/AIDS have gathered to discuss the growing number of cases among people over 50. The number of HIV-positive New Jerseyans ages 50 and older has increased from 1,051 in 1992 to 6,534 in 2002, and the current number is estimated to be higher, although data are not yet available. About 68% of HIV-positive people over age 50 in New Jersey reported being diagnosed with the disease before age 50, according to the Star-Ledger. Diagnosing HIV/AIDS in older people can be challenging because already many are experiencing symptoms of other diseases or conditions that could be confused with the symptoms of HIV infection. In addition, many older people and their physicians find it difficult to discuss high-risk behaviors, such as injection drug use or unprotected sex. Most HIV-positive men ages 50 and older contract the virus through injection drug use or unprotected sex with other men, while most older women with HIV contract the virus through unprotected heterosexual contact. In New Jersey, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects African-American and Latino people ages 50 and older (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 10/22).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.