UNAIDS recommends focus shift to HIV-infected adults 50 and older

More than 10 percent of adults living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries are ages 50 and up, the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS said on Friday.

The finding, which was published in a supplement to the 2013 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic, suggests shifting demographics of the AIDS epidemic and the need for a new focus to reach people over the age of 50. According to the supplement, out of the global total of 35.3 million people living with HIV, an estimated 3.6 million are people aged 50 and up.

The supplement also found that the majority of HIV-infected people over 50 are in low- and middle-income countries. The percentage of adults living with HIV who are 50 years and older is above 10 percent on those countries.

"People 50 years and above are frequently being missed by HIV services," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said. "This is costing lives. Much more attention needs to be given to their specific needs and to integrating HIV services into other health services which people 50 years and over may already have access to."

UNAIDS said that the aging of the HIV epidemic is due to decreasing HIV incidence among younger adults, the success of antiretroviral therapy in prolonging the lives of people living with HIV and people aged 50 and above engaging in risk taking behavior that can lead to new HIV infections.

The supplement noted that HIV prevention services tailored to the needs of people in this age demographic are essential to ensure the group is reached. The supplement concluded that HIV responses need to adapt to the important demographic trend and that HIV services should be integrated with other health screening services available to this age demographic.