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The elderly neglected in HIV/AIDS interventions

17 April 2012, 12:13 Trudy Tru

Older persons are neglected in HIV and TB response, yet they are just as affected by the HIV as their younger counterparts, a survey report has revealed.

According to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey (KAIS) 2007, persons 50 years and above have previously missed in the limelight of HIV prevalence surveys.

According to Daniel Aghan, a Technical Advisor at Handicap International, the elderly and persons with disability are often ignored in HIV and AIDS prevention campaigns.

“We are all vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, yet the elderly and the physically impaired are many times ignored in HIV campaigns despite the fact that they too play a vital role in alleviation of HIV prevalence,” Mr Aghan added

“Older people are neglected in many areas of service delivery especially healthcare,” says Dr Maina Itume, acting CEO, HelpAge Kenya.”In Modern times they have become caretakers of HIV Aids orphans. Their survival should therefore be given priority, “he adds.

Currently, HIV prevention campaigns mainly target adolescents, youth and the middle aged, neglecting older persons.

A study carried out by UNICEF and HelpAge International indicated that 40-50 per cent of carers of orphans and vulnerable children and home- based AIDs patients are older persons especially women.

Dr Itume appreciates the contribution made by order persons in taking care of the affected and infected by HIV, AIDS and TB, namely, their role in care and support of orphans and vulnerable children and home based care of AIDS patients.

“In spite of such massive contribution by older persons in alleviating the burden of HIV care and support, older persons receive little or no support either from the family, community, government and other institutions,” he says. “Yet it is a common fact that most of the older people lose their means of livelihood either through retirement, illness or old age, “he adds.

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