The letter comes in response to the recent 2012 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic which does not include data or mention of the growing numbers of people who are ageing with HIV. Current estimates suggest there are more than 3 million people aged 50 and older with HIV in Africa alone, and countless more around the world.
The letter states that “As a result of the omission of data on those aged 50 and older, the report is inaccurate and misleading. We fear the report’s failure to include ageing with HIV tacitly fuels several stigmatizing myths about older adults: that they don’t have sex or engage in other risky behaviours; that HIV only occurs among young people below age 49; and that their challenges in living with and treating HIV, among other health problems, are no different than those of younger adults.
The letter urges UNAIDS, and all those working to end the epidemic, to collect and use data to describe the entire epidemic, including the ever-increasing number of people who are growing older with HIV.
The following steps are recommended:
- Include comprehensive data and guidance on aging and HIV in future UNAIDS reports
- Eliminate age limits in guidance for reporting data on the epidemic and ensure data presented in country progress reports is reflected in the global report
- Encourage service providers to expand their coverage to include older adults
- Include research data showing changes in the health status of older adults with HIV including the onset of age-associated co-morbid non-communicable diseases
- Fund research efforts that assess the sexual and risk behaviours of older adults to better inform prevention efforts.
The letter concludes by stating “As the world leader in providing strategic guidance and information to effectively end the HIV epidemic, we need UNAIDS to fully describe and act on behalf of all who are affected by HIV.”