Objective: To examine age at diagnosis, sexual behaviour and some social characteristics of people living with HIV in London who are over the age of 50 years, with particular reference to gay men.
Methods: Patients with HIV infection attending National Health Service outpatient clinics in north-east London between June 2004 and June 2005 were asked to complete a confidential, self-administered questionnaire.
Results: 1687 people with diagnosed HIV were recruited (63% response rate) including 758 gay men, 480 black African heterosexual women and 224 black African heterosexual men. Just over 10% of the whole sample (184/1687, 10.9%) were aged 50 years or above; gay men 13.1%, black African heterosexual men 8.5%, black African heterosexual women 6.9% (p<0.01). A third of the HIV-positive gay men over 50 years were diagnosed with HIV in their 50s or 60s (33.3%, 32/96). Overall, one in five HIV-positive gay men (20.1%, 144/715) reported high-risk sexual behaviour in the previous 3 months. This did not vary significantly by age (p = 0.2).
Conclusion: In this study of people living with HIV in London, one in seven gay men were over the age of 50 years. A third of the HIV-positive gay men over 50 years were diagnosed in their 50s or 60s, highlighting that this group is not just an ageing cohort of people who were diagnosed in their 30s or 40s. Positive prevention programmes should target HIV-positive gay men of all ages because older gay men with HIV were just as likely to report high-risk sexual behaviour as younger men.
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Funding: The study was funded by St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London Charitable Foundation, Research Advisory Board (grant JRB XMNS) with additional support from City University London.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: Ethics approval was granted by East London and The City Local Research Ethics Committee and Redbridge and Waltham Forest Local Research Ethics Committee.
Patient consent: Obtained.
Contributors: JE and JA conceived the study; JE, JA and CB designed the survey questions with input from the advisory panel; CB was responsible for questionnaire distribution, data collection and data entry; FI was responsible for data management and analysis. JE and FI planned the statistical analysis. JE drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the interpretation of data and read, revised and approved the final manuscript. JE is the guarantor.
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