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January 10, 1994

AIDS Risk Behaviors Among Late Middle-aged and Elderly Americans: The National AIDS Behavioral Surveys

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Stall), the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (Drs Stall and Catania), and the Division of General/Internal Medicine (Dr Catania), University of California, San Francisco.

Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(1):57-63. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420010085010

Objectives:  Although 10% of all acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases diagnosed in the United States have been among Americans aged 50 years of age or older, little attention has been devoted to understanding AIDS risk-taking behaviors among middle-aged or older Americans. This study describes the prevalence of AIDS risk among Americans aged 50 years of age or older.

Design and Study Population:  We present data from the National AIDS Behavioral Surveys, two large crosssectional national surveys taken in 1990-1991.

Main Outcome Variable:  Prevalence of risk behaviors for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission and of HIV testing.

Results:  Findings from both surveys provide replication of several important points. First, the prevalence of having at least one risk factor for HIV infection was about 10% among Americans aged 50 years or older in both samples. Very small proportions of Americans past the age of 50 years with a known behavioral risk for HIV infection used condoms during sex or had undergone HIV testing. At-risk Americans past the age of 50 years were one sixth as likely to use condoms during sex and one fifth as likely to have been tested for HIV as a comparison group of at-risk individuals in their 20s.

Conclusions:  Despite the fact that HIV infection is clearly present among those past the age of 50 years, a small proportion of individuals in this age group take behavioral risks for HIV infection. High-risk individuals older than 50 years are much less likely to have adopted AIDS prevention strategies than are younger individuals who engage in the same behavioral risks.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:57-63)

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