HIV/AIDS in Older People

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A growing number of older people are living with HIV/AIDS. One reason is because improved treatments are helping people with the disease live longer. Nearly half of people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 and older. Many of them were diagnosed with HIV in their younger years. However, thousands of older people get HIV every year. But, is HIV/AIDS different in older people?

Older people are less likely than younger people to get tested, so they may not know they have HIV. Signs of HIV/AIDS can be mistaken for the aches and pains of normal aging. Older adults might be coping with other diseases or conditions that can mask the signs of HIV/AIDS.

Doctors do not always think to test older people for HIV. By the time the older person is diagnosed, the virus may be in the late stages and more likely to progress to AIDS. Remember, if you are at risk, get tested regularly for HIV.

Even when the disease is well controlled, people with HIV may develop aging-related conditions at a younger age. HIV and its treatment can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain and the heart. For example, people living with HIV are significantly more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without HIV.

Visit the NIA website to learn more about HIV/AIDS and older people.

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