n South African Medical Journal - HIV prevalence and incidence in people 50 years and older in rural South Africa : scientific letters




Studies of HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa usually focus on the age group 15 - 49 years. However, estimates of HIV prevalence in older people are required for health policy and planning. The health care and social needs of older HIV-infected individuals differ from younger people; e.g. because of different co-morbidities, different responses to antiretroviral treatment (ART), and the central role of older adults in African households. In South Africa, a nationally representative survey provided first insights into the burden of HIV in the population ≥ 50 years of age, reporting HIV prevalence in men/women as 10.4%/10.2% (in the age group 50 - 54 years), 6.2%/7.7% (55 - 59 years), and 3.5%/1.8% (≥ 60 years). However, the South African HIV epidemic is highly heterogeneous6 with substantial variation by geographic location and ethnic group, limiting the value of national averages.


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