Elderly Do Not Recognize Symptoms of AIDS

WESTPORT, CT-Those who are 50 years old or older are less likely to be diagnosed with AIDS before it is in its full blown stage, especially if the patient is not white.

A new study from the UCLA Department of Medicine followed 2864 HIV-infected people who were receiving medical care. Of the group, 286 were at least 50 years old in 1996. During the study, the research team led by David S. Zingmond, MD, found that older nonwhites were less likely to have clinical AIDS than other groups. However, this group's decline in health was faster than white patients.

The group determined that older people are less likely to recognize the symptoms of AIDS infections and less likely than younger people to seek medical attention if they think they are sick with the disease.

Zingmond said older people's lack of education about the disease might be a cultural phenomenon. He said older nonwhites tend to have less education and are more vulnerable. They may not recognize HIV symptoms until the disease has progressed into AIDS, or they may not have affordable healthcare to obtain treatment.

Source: Reuters Health