New Yorkers over the age of 40 comprise an increasingly large proportion of HIV/AIDS patients, the city's Health Department said today.
Those living with HIV/AIDS now live longer, thanks to improvements in care and treatment, the city's semiannual HIV Epidemiology and Field Services report said. Such improvements are one reason that 75 percent of New Yorkers with the disease are now age 40 and over. Thirty-three percent are over 50.
According to the health department, HIV and AIDS are usually considered a concern for young adults, and therefore middle-aged to older people are often not tested. However, 17 percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV each year are over 40-years-old, the data finds.
“Older New Yorkers, like all New Yorkers, are at risk for HIV if they have unprotected sex or inject drugs,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr.
Because young adults are more frequently tested, the disease is often caught earlier and can be treated before their condition worsens to AIDS. Thirty-eight percent of older adults already have AIDS when they are tested HIV positive in New York City, compared to 87 percent of young adults, the report said.
"Receiving an AIDS diagnosis when first learning they are HIV positive means these New Yorkers may have gone undiagnosed for a decade or more, missed opportunities for medical care and possibly unknowingly infected others with HIV," the press release warns.
“If you are having sex, be safe and use a condom. If your doctor gives you the eyeball test instead of offering you an HIV test, ask for it," added HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Assistant Commissioner Dr. Monica Sweeney in the release. "We all need to work together to make sure we are all protected.”
The report, based on research by the Field Services Unit of NYC Health Department's HIV Epidemiology program from January to June 2009, also indicates that 107,177 New Yorkers are living with HIV/AIDS as of June 30 2009.Of this, men comprise 70%. By ethnicity, black New Yorkers comprise 45 percent, Hispanics 32 percent, whites 20 percent, and Asians 1.5 percent.