Dr. Michael Simberkoff, Executive Chief of Staff
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Dr. Michael S. Simberkoff, Executive Chief of Staff, VANYHHS, and a noted researcher, clinician and authority in the care of HIV infected patients, places VA at the forefront of healthcare for older people with HIV. VA’s prominence in the field is based on the committed focus of its specialists and long experience with infected patients.
“The reason for its focus on an older HIV-infected population in VHA is that we don’t have teenagers in our patient population and the military has done a good job of educating and preventing high risk behavior in its active duty force. We follow some Veterans who were infected while in the military, but most are infected post-discharge, “ said Dr. Simberkoff.
“Today, it increasingly important for all Veterans, regardless of age, to be tested for HIV infection,” said Dr. Simberkoff. “This is because effective drugs are available to treat infection and the health of those Veterans who are infected as well as their sexual contacts will be adversely effected if diagnosis and treatment are delayed. I would urge every Veteran to get tested as soon as possible.”
A National Prevention Information Network * article touches on the way many people in the community, including those who may be infected with HIV, may dismiss the possibility of having this sexually transmitted disease:
“When people think of those populations most impacted by HIV/AIDS, older persons are often the last to come to mind. However, older people are at increasing risk for HIV/AIDS and other STDs. A growing number of older people now have HIV/AIDS. People age 50 and older represent almost one-fourth of all people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Because older people don't get tested for HIV/AIDS on a regular basis, there may be even more cases than currently known.
Many factors contribute to the increasing risk of infection in older people. In general, older Americans know less about HIV/AIDS and STDs than younger age groups because the elderly have been neglected by those responsible for education and prevention messages. In addition, older people are less likely than younger people to talk about their sex lives or drug use with their doctors, and doctors don't tend to ask their older patients about sex or drug use. Finally, older people often mistake the symptoms of HIV/AIDS for the aches and pains of normal aging, so they are less likely to get tested.”
The bottom line of this CDC message and the bottom line for Dr. Simberkoff are the same. Every Veteran should get tested regardless of age.
* Elderly Population and HIV/AIDS