New figures have shown that rates of HIV cases in people over the age of 50 have doubled in the last seven years.
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According to the data, the number of new cases of HIV in the UK was 299 in 2000. But by 2007, that number had risen to 710. Of those, half we diagnosed late, increasing a person’s chances of an early death as a result of Aids.
The study showed that in younger age groups, a third of people with HIV get the disease identified at a similar level of progression. And the research showed that 75% of deaths among people aged 50 or over, with the HIV infection, occurred within 12 months of being diagnosed. Compared with younger adults carrying the virus, older people were significantly more likely to have been infected through sex with men.
Older “straight” adults were more likely to acquire the virus in the UK, but there was evidence of white heterosexual men picking up the infection abroad.
Ruth Smith, a senior HIV scientist at the Health Protection Agency’s Centre for Infections, said: “We must continually reinforce the safe sex message - using a condom with all new or casual partners is the surest way to ensure people do not become infected with a serious sexually transmitted infection such as HIV.”
The findings are published online in the journal AIDS and were presented at the International Aids Conference in Vienna.