Monday, June 25, 2012

HIV Diagnosis and Racial Disparities in Older Patients

HIV/AIDS Day Red Umbrella-, Richmond, VA, 2011
Do you think that HIV diagnoses are uncommon in older people? Think again. HIV diagnosis in patients 50 years of age or older occurs and racial disparities exist. Here is an article in the American Journal of Public Health on the matter.

The investigators analyzed surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding HIV diagnoses during 2005 through 2008 in 37 states. 

The average annual rate of diagnosis (per 100 000 persons) for older persons was 9.8. Rates among older Blacks (49.2) and Hispanics/Latinos (19.5) were 12.6 and 5.0 times, respectively, the rate among older Whites (3.9).  The rates of HIV diagnosis among younger Blacks (102.5) and Hispanics/Latinos (39.0) were 7.7 and 2.9 times, respectively, the rate among younger Whites (13.3). 

Without question, racial and ethnic disparities in HIV diagnosis rates exist.  Older persons are more likely than younger persons to receive a late HIV diagnosis. In my opinion this stems from a bias that 'old' people are not likely to have HIV risk factors resulting in missed HIV testing opportunities.

HIV testing should no longer be risk factor based. The American College of Physicians now recommends routine HIV screening for all patients. HIV diagnosis leads to treatment and treatment is prevention

I couldn't agree more.

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