08.11.19

Increasing awareness of HIV in the over 50s

Bath and North East Somerset’s Public Health team is supporting AgeUK’s campaign to raise awareness of the rising rate of HIV in the over 50s.

There are currently more than 100 people living with HIV across Bath and North East Somerset, with one in three over the age of 50.

Nationwide over the past four years there has been a drastic drop in the total number of people diagnosed with HIV, but the diagnosis rate in those over the age of fifty is increasing.

To try to address the issue AgeUK has launched a new campaign: ‘HIV: Age is No Protection.’ It aims to help the over 50s understand more about HIV and encourage them to access sexual health resources.

Bath and North East Somerset will be displaying their support by holding additional free walk-in clinics for people who want advice or an HIV test during National HIV testing week which runs from Saturday 16th to Friday 22nd of November. The clinics will run from 8:30am to 1pm Monday 18th – Saturday 23rd of November.

Age UK have discovered numerous reasons why there’s been an increase in the diagnosis rate in over 50s including not knowing enough about HIV, a reluctance to discuss their sexual history to new partners, mistaking symptoms and therefore taking the wrong medication and missed or incorrect diagnosis in Primary care.

Bruce Laurence, Bath & North East Somerset director of Public Health, said: “HIV is now a treatable condition. Medication can keep the virus totally under control, which means that those living with the disease can lead an active and healthy life without experiencing symptoms or passing the virus on.

“However, it is really important people get tested as early as possible if they have any chance of being at risk through current or past sexual behaviour, use of injectable drugs or potentially risky medical procedures. Late diagnosis delays treatment, which could lead to symptomatic and dangerous illnesses, and could also mean that the infection gets passed on to others.” 

The National Aids Trust said: “We wholeheartedly support AgeUK’s campaign to raise HIV awareness among older people. Thanks to prevention efforts, new HIV diagnoses in the UK have fallen significantly since 2015, but we’re not seeing the same rate of progress among older people, especially older women.

“Two-thirds of people over 65 are diagnosed late, which can have serious consequences for health outcomes. HIV and sexual health interventions must consider people of all ages if we’re going to tackle HIV effectively and achieve our goal of ending HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030.”

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