Press release: Success in fighting the AIDS epidemic

Nr. 35/2015 - 13.02.2015

International team of researchers calls for expanding HIV testing to include older adults

(pug) To date, the tests in most nationally representative surveys on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been limited to people younger than 50 or 55 years of age. A group of international researchers led by the University of Göttingen and the Harvard School of Public Health has now published a comment in the scientific journal The Lancet HIV that calls for data surveys relating to HIV in developing countries to also include older adults in HIV testing.

"Expanding the tests to cover older adults will provide us with important information for designing and planning future HIV prevention, treatment and care strategies," explains Dr. Sebastian Vollmer, Junior Professor at Göttingen University’s Faculty of Economic Sciences. He and his colleagues point out in particular how the age demographics of the epidemic are changing. Thanks to the expanding coverage for antiretroviral therapy (ART) – a specific drug treatment for HIV patients – more infected sufferers are living into old age, even in developing countries. According to the scientists, data on the numbers and characteristics of older HIV patients are highly relevant for monitoring the long-term health, economic and social outcomes of ART.

The researchers moreover point out that even older adults are still sexually active and can become infected with the virus. That is another reason why a solid database is important to determine age-specific risk factors for infection. "Ultimately, the expansion of HIV testing might also lower the stigma for HIV sufferers. In many cultures, older adults are role models. Their participation could raise general awareness for testing," Prof. Vollmer believes.

Original publication: Sebastian Vollmer et al. HIV surveys in older adults: better data, better health. The Lancet HIV, Volume 2, Issue 2, e40 - e41, doi:

Contact address:
Junior Professor Dr. Sebastian Vollmer
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Faculty of Economic Sciences
Junior Chair of Development Economics
Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 (0)551/ 39-8170