HIV/AIDS Cases in Senior Citizens Increase

The Centers for Disease Control says the cumulative estimated number of diagnoses of aids through 2004 in the United States is 944,305.

Health officials say a growing number of them are the elderly.

Carstella Harris found out she was HIV positive when she was 35. Now at 51 years old, she stands in front of a room of older adults sharing her story to make them more aware of the tragic disease.

Carstella Harris said, "The doctor suggested that he be tested for HIV. He did and the test came back positive. She also told me to get tested. I did and the test came back positive. What I didn't know is that he knew that he was HIV positive prior to us getting married."

Through 2005, nearly 137,000 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported in Florida. In Georgia the number of cumulative AIDS cases reported by the end of 2004 was 27,821.

Health officials say there is an increase in diagnoses among senior citizens.

Yolanda Miller, HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator for the Leon County Health Department, said, "Those over 50, we see a number of those persons being infected because they're coming in being tested more frequently. They're finding out later on in life that they have been exposed to the disease."

The Leon County Health Department and Bond Clinic's "Tea With Seniors: Silence is Death" summit Monday was a platform to educate seniors on HIV/AIDS.

Audrey Galimore, a senior citizen, shared, “I learned a lot. Things I didn't know and questions I had not asked before, they were brought out. I really enjoyed it."

Officials say those young and old should talk about HIV/AIDS, and get tested. The "Tea With Seniors" summit is a kickoff to World AIDS Day, which is this Friday, December 1st.