For many aging adults, certain exams and tests at the doctor’s is a given. Those exams, along with their healthcare providers who pay for them, understand that with age comes certain increased health risks. One area of concern, however, has seemed to skip over this generation of adults. In the world of HIV screening tests, many doctors and other healthcare professionals simply overlook those within the older adult range. In light of this oversight, in 2006, the CDC issued a statement recommending that adults aged 50-64 be screened for HIV.

Research prior to that date had shown that this portion of the population had some living with an infection but not knowing it. Hence, we saw this call to healthcare givers to make a habit of testing older adults for the virus. While the suggestion was heeded, the effort was not sustained. This has caused some concern.

In the years leading up to 2006, the numbers were not high as far as HIV testing for this age group was concerned. Within just a three-year period, the percentage dropped from over 5% to just under 4%, this all taking place prior to the CDC‘s exhortation. In hopes of increasing awareness for these adults and their health care providers, the recommendation for HIV testing to be considered routine for this age group went out in 2006. The numbers did pick up immediately after the suggestion by the CDC was made. However, percentages only increased by one or two points. The news that researchers found most alarming was that this increase was not sustained. The number of older adults tested dropped within a couple years to below the average before the recommendation. Risk factors, however, have remained constant for this age group.

Awareness of these facts will hopefully spark additional efforts to revisit what was recommended nearly a decade ago. Not only should doctors be aware and do what they can for HIV screening tests for these adults, but patients may need to self-advocate in this instance. While no one looks forward to the list of health issues faced as we age, HIV is a big one to have crossed off the list. So check with your doctor and ask about HIV risks and testing at your next visit.