At the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980’s, survival time with HIV was only a few years at best. Today, with the advancement of antiretroviral drugs, individuals infected with HIV can live long, happy lives. In fact, the average life span of someone living with HIV/AIDS receiving treatment in the United States has been estimated to be over 71 years (average life expectancy at birth in the United States was 78.7 years in 2010). This is a major milestone when we consider the terrifying situation faced in the early years of the epidemic. Today, CDC estimates that over one-fourth of those living with HIV/AIDS are 50 years old or older. Since 2003, the percent of clients served by our HIV/AIDS Services Division, Ryan White Part A program, who are over the age of 45 has grown from 32% to 64%. This includes individuals who have been living with the virus for some time as well as those who are newly diagnosed. Click here to learn more about the Ryan White Care Act.
Unfortunately, people 50 years old and older are not just living with HIV; they are also contracting and spreading the virus. In Massachusetts, 21% of people newly diagnosed HIV were 50 years old or older in 2010. It is important to remember that at any age, you are at risk of getting an STI or HIV if you are sexually active without protection.
Help prevent the spread of HIV:
- Use a condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
- Use a condom or dental dam every time you have oral sex
- Limit your number of sex partners.
- Talk with your partner(s) about their status and getting tested.
Ask your doctor about getting tested for HIV or click here to find a testing site. If you need help finding a doctor or getting health insurance, contact the Mayor’s Health Line at (617) 534-5050.
Andrew Solomon is a project manager with the Public Health Commission, supporting the Infectious Disease Bureau in Education & Outreach.