Rachel Albone, HIV and AIDS Policy Adviser, HelpAge International:
"Thirty years on from the first recognised cases of AIDS, I am increasingly concerned that too little is being done to address the impact of HIV and AIDS on older people.
Despite a worldwide fall in AIDS-related deaths and improved access to antiretroviral drugs, a funding shortfall threatens to undo progress for the first time in a decade.
This comes at a time when more people are living with HIV longer than ever. It is undeniable the epidemic is ageing. Today, around 13% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are in their 50s and above, and estimates forecast that by 2015 over 50% of people with the virus in the US will be in this age group.
This is why to mark World AIDS Day, HelpAge International is hosting a two-day conference, ‘HIV and Ageing in Africa' in Ethiopia in partnership with UNAIDS, WHO and the University of Sydney.
Challenges posed by the ageing epidemic are not insignificant. One major challenge is not having a clear picture of the nature and scale of the epidemic. At present, we still have very little reliable data on older people living with HIV. We must ensure that governments and the UN are collecting, analysing and reporting data on HIV for those aged 50 and above.
We also suffer from a lack of understanding about the health implications of living in older age with HIV. Therefore, there is an urgent need for more research into this issue if we are to adequately support older people in the future.
I am looking forward to working with colleagues from government, UN agencies, academia and civil society to plan for the future, as we all share Hillary Clinton's hope that we will be AIDS free in a generation.
However, if we do not address our failings to older people now and put their needs at the heart of AIDS research and care, I fear future generations will continue to miss out."
HIV and Ageing in Africa, an official pre-conference of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), Ethiopia, from 2-3 December 2011 is being jointly organised and hosted by HelpAge International, the World Health Organization, the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Sydney School of Public Health of the University of Sydney, Australia.
An updated media report and conference statement will be ready for download Saturday 3 November.
Notes to Editors
- For more information on "HIV and Ageing in Africa" and HelpAge International at ICASA 2011, interviews with Rachel Albone and information on older people and HIV and AIDS please contact: Rachel Trayner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0207 148 7623, 07738982122 (24hrs), rachel.trayner.hai (Skype).
- HelpAge International is a global network of organisations helping older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives - www.helpage.org