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Risk of HIV Increasing Among Older People

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According to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV has become an increasing risk factor for sexually active people ages 50 and older in the United States.

From 2003 to 2006, U.S. cases of older individuals who were HIV positive jumped from 20 to 25 percent.

For those ages five to 14 that are infected with HIV, life expectancy is around 13 years or more. But for those infected at age 65 or older, life expectancy declines to about four years.

Experts warn that the rise in HIV cases among older people could be partly due to the use of erectile dysfunction drugs. The WHO report stated, “Sexual activity of older individuals in the developing world is barely researched. Many older individuals everywhere are sexually active, although interest in sex and frequency of vaginal intercourse decline with age. Since 1998, erectile-dysfunction drugs have been extending the sex life of many older individuals and, at the same time, may be extending the HIV epidemic into older age groups. Many studies show that older individuals are less likely than their younger counterparts to practice safer sex.”

Another WHO report—“Unprotected Sex Has No Age”—quotes an official of Brazil’s Ministry of Health: “Older people became sexually active in a world where there was no AIDS. They were not accustomed to using condoms.”

Continuing, the report suggests, “The danger may be compounded by older men seeking out younger, sexually active women, which increases their chances of exposure to HIV.”

Reuters reports, “Patients over the age of 50 make up roughly 8 percent of new HIV diagnoses in Europe and 11 percent in the United States, where rising numbers of older people are infected with the virus that spreads through sex, transfusions, and needle-sharing.”


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