Along with the current HIV population growing older or aging , there is a recent trend in older individuals being diagnosed with HIV (Linley et al., 2012). In addition to the increasing amount of prevalence, it has been found that these older patients have a disparity when they learned their diagnosis. Patients that are over the age of 50 are twice as likely as young people to receive a late diagnosis of HIV (Linley et al., 2012). The diagnosis of HIV in older individuals is often delayed due to symptoms commonly being mistaken for other, more common, geriatric diseases (Linley et al., 2012). In addition physicians do not normally regard this population as have a high risk of HIV, so it often goes untested (Linley et al., 2012; Cardoso et al., 2013). Additional factors such as substance abuse and psychiatric disorders, sexual behaviors, biological risk and social factors can increase the risk of an older individual contracting the disease.
Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders
Drug use in the 50+ age population is being seen at unparalleled levels (Green et al., 2010). Drug use as well as alcohol dependency is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection. In studies examining drug use rate in HIV positive vs. HIV negative populations, there is a higher history of drug use within the HIV-positive populations. The Veterans Aging Cohort Study found that HIV infection was most prevalent in current high consequence multidrug users that non-drug users (Green et al., 2010). High consequence multidrug users were defined as individuals who used multiple drugs; including injectable drugs (Green et al., 2010) Additionally, many individuals in this category also had alcohol abuse issues, associated psychiatric disor...
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...o discussion, diagnosis and treatment exist, as many physicians who treat patients that are in their middle to later stage of life do not regularly question the patients’ sexual practices or if they are having sexual problems (Hinchliff & Gott, 2011). Additionally, older patients are not likely to raise the topic themselves (Hinchliff & Gott, 2011). There is a belief among many physicians that the older population is a low risk population thus such sensitive topics do not need to be discussed (Brooks et al., 2012). It is also seen that many physicians felt uncomfortable discussing such a taboo subject with an individual that could be their parent or grandparent’s age (Brooks et al., 2012). Such barriers were found to have both psychological and social factors as patients’ viewed such topics to be highly private and having a sensitive nature (Hinchliff & Gott, 2011).
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