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HIV Infection Among People 50 and Older Concerns WHO

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A "surprisingly high" number of people over age 50 worldwide are infected with HIV and the number of cases in older adults may be growing, says a World Health Organization study released Tuesday.

For example, between 2003 and 2006, the rate of HIV infection among Americans 50 and older increased from 20 percent to 25 percent. Between 1996 and 2006, the rate of HIV infection among people 50 or older in Brazil increased from 7.5 to 15.7 per 100,000, Agence France Presse reported.

"The frequency of infection with HIV in older people is worrying. We need to understand why and when these people are becoming infected so that public health campaigns can be better targeted to prevent such infections," said WHO scientist George Schmid.

One problem is that HIV is widely regarded as a young people's disease, the WHO said. This leads to less HIV screening among older people, which results in delayed diagnosis. In addition, older people are less likely than younger people to practice safe sex, AFP reported.

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Tests used for the diagnosis of HIV infection in a particular person require a high degree of both sensitivity and specificity. In the United States, this is achieved using an algorithm combining two tests for HIV antibodies. If antibodies are detected by an initial test based on the ELISA method, then a second test using the Western blot procedure determines the size of the antigens in the test kit binding to the antibodies. The combination of these two methods is highly accurate.

May 24, 2014 - 9:31am
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