Affinity Health Raises Awareness About HIV/AIDS and Aging
Affinity Health – a leading provider of affordable health cover in SA – raises awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment among the elderly.
Why are the aged are at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS?
The devastating impact of HIV/AIDS continues to spread rapidly across communities across the world. Sadly, the 50 and older group is the fastest-growing population with HIV.
The World Health Organisation estimates that close to 3 million people over the age of 50 in Sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV. This reflects a desperate need for greater attention for HIV-infected older people in terms of prevention and care.
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported persons aged 50 and older accounted for:
- 17% of new HIV diagnoses
- 47% of persons living with HIV
- 71% of all deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV infection
Perhaps even more startling is that projections show that, in about five years, more than half of all HIV-infected patients will be aged over 50 years.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can affect everyone and does not discriminate against gender, race, and ethnicity, where one lives, and of course, age.
However, the elderly population is particularly vulnerable because many remain in the dark regarding their HIV/AIDS status. During normal examinations, health care practitioners may fail to screen older patients for HIV/AIDS, resulting in a missed diagnosis.
People who are 50 years or older may also mistake signs of HIV/AIDS for the aches and pains of normal aging. Generally speaking, older adults know less about HIV/AIDS than younger people and may not know how it spreads or the importance of using condoms, not sharing needles, and getting tested for HIV.
In addition, older people are less likely than younger people to talk about their sex lives or drug use with their health care providers. And, lastly, the stigma of HIV/AIDS may be more severe among older persons, leading them to avoid getting tested or hide their diagnosis from family and friends.
“Although improved therapies have resulted in people living longer with HIV, older adults may be less aware of the significance of testing to detect HIV in its early stages. As a result, when older persons are diagnosed with HIV, they are usually in a more advanced stage of the disease,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“Routine HIV testing aids in the enrolment of older persons living with HIV into treatment, improving their health outcomes and lowering the risk of the virus spreading to others.”
The Importance of National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day
National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAD) is the perfect time to talk about getting tested for HIV and, for those living with HIV, getting and staying in care. The annual NHAAD theme is “Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be!”
“It’s important for all communities to learn about and bring awareness to the aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, care, and treatment,” adds Hewlett.
Getting tested and connected with treatment for HIV helps reduce the spread of the disease by decreasing communicability by up to 96%. There are many types of testing and resources available in addition to testing offered by healthcare providers. Other options include contacting your local health department, community health organisations, or health centres.
Affinity Health is committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS and aims to make affordable healthcare available to all South Africans with benefits across a wide range of packages, providing various cost-effective healthcare options.
The HIV/AIDS programme caters to the medical and lifestyle needs of members living with HIV/AIDS and provides suitable treatment and tools to live a healthy life. For more information on the HIV/AIDS Management Programme, click here.
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.