Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A recent study released by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, or ECDC, found that nearly 1 in 6 new HIV diagnoses in Europe are occurring in adults over age 50.
The study, published this week in The Lancet HIV, found that between 2004 and 2015, the rate of newly reported HIV cases in Europe increased by 2 percent each year overall in older adults over 50.
Similarly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, in the United States, people age 50 and older accounted for 17 percent -- just over 1 in 6 -- of the 39,513 HIV diagnoses in 2015, and people age 50 to 54 account for nearly half of the diagnoses among those age 50 and over.
With around 30,000 newly diagnosed HIV cases reported each year over the past decade in the 31 countries of the European Union and European Economic Area, or EU/EEA, the HIV epidemic remains a significant threat to public health.
"Increasing new HIV diagnoses among older adults point towards the compelling need to heighten awareness among health-care providers and deliver more targeted prevention interventions for this age group and the total adult population," the authors stated in a press release.
From 2004 to 2015, there were 54,102 newly diagnosed cases of HIV among older adults over 50 or 2.6 per 100,000 population. By 2015, 17 percent of all newly diagnosed HIV cases in Europe were among adults over 50.
Researchers also found that people age 50 and older are more likely to be diagnosed late compared to younger adults, and heterosexual transmission was the main method of transmission in the 50 and older group. Sex between men was the main transmission mode among younger people.
Roughly 63 percent of newly reported cases of HIV in older adults were diagnosed late or presented with advanced infection.
Researchers believe that the HIV epidemic is moving in new directions as a result of less awareness of how HIV is transmitted among older adults.