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Number of older HIV victims is increasing

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NEW YORK`, N.Y., Aug 30, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- HIV is often regarded as a disease of young people, but researchers say the number of people over age 50 infected with HIV is significant and growing.

An article in the Sept. 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online, said the increasing number of older people diagnosed with HIV may be due to several factors.

The development of highly active anti-retroviral therapy has probably contributed to HIV-infected patients' survival into old age. Older patients are more likely to adhere to medication schedules, resulting in good immune responses.

Also, HIV infection is slowly starting to become more recognized as a potential diagnosis for older patients, resulting in expanded testing.

"I would say that, on average, physicians are not aware that they need to be thinking about HIV as a possible diagnosis in their older patients," said lead author Dr. Nathalie Casau of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

Casau said areas in which future research into HIV in older people would be helpful include HIV-related bone density loss, cardiovascular disease and dementia -- all well studied in younger patients, but which may progress differently in older HIV-infected individuals.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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