HIV Testing Declines in Older Adults

Study finds substantial minority living with undiagnosed HIV infection.

Study finds substantial minority living with undiagnosed HIV infection.

Despite recommendations that all patients automatically be screened for HIV whether or not they show symptoms, recent statistics show testing for the disease is on the decline among older adults.

Researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health evaluated HIV screening trends in adults aged 50 to 64 years before and after 2006, which is when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended widespread HIV screening. The findings revealed that the early uptick in HIV testing after these recommendations were issued was not sustained over time.

The researchers found that the level of engagement in HIV risk behaviors held steady, even as screening declined in the age group from 5.5% in 2003 to 3.6% in 2006. Following the CDC screening recommendations, testing improved to approximately 4.5% before again dropping to 3.7% after 2009.

The only screening increases during this period was found among non-Hispanic blacks and patients who recently visited the doctor. A prior study showed HIV screening prevalence fell under 5% and decreased with age, as older adults, whites, and older women were found least likely to be tested.

Both studies show that 90% of people in the 50 to 64 years old age group, who are more likely to engage in sexual or social relationships with each other, are not undergoing testing for HIV as per CDC recommendations.

The studies highlight the fact that adults age 50 and older should push for HIV screening during doctor visits to follow the guidelines the CDC considers essential for nearly all adults. Specifically for individuals who are not in high risk groups, as the study noted that there exists a substantial minority of people living with an undiagnosed HIV infection.