You may have thought that only younger people are affected by diseases like HIV (short for human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). But anyone can contract these diseases at any age.
According to the National Institute on Aging, says almost one-fourth of all people with HIV/AIDS in the United States are age 50 and older. A new report says by 2015, more than half of those with HIV will be over 50.
There may be more people who don't know they have the disease – researchers say older people may not talk about their sex lives or drug use with their doctors. They may know less about HIV/AIDS than younger people do.
You may be at risk if you are sexually active and do not use a condom. You can get HIV/AIDS from having sex with someone who has HIV. You can also get it from sharing needles with someone who is infected. You are also at risk if you've had a blood transfusion or operation in a developing country at any time, or in the United States between 1978 and 1985.
The symptoms of HIV/AIDS can include headache, cough, diarrhea, swollen glands, weight loss, mouth sores, cramps, fevers and sweats, and repeated yeast infections. It can take as little as a few weeks for symptoms to show up, or more than 10 years.
For older people, depression is a special problem, says the National Institute on Aging. They may not have friends and family to help them. HIV can be treated but it is challenging for older adults who may have other medical conditions.
Medicare now covers screenings for HIV. Remember, your healthcare provider may not offer you an HIV test because they may think you are not sexually active. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk.
For more information, visit www.aids.gov
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