Older Adults with HIV/AIDS in Rural China

Yurong Zhang1, Esme Fuller-Thomson*, 2, Christine Anne Mitchell2, Xiulan Zhang1
1 School of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
2 Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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© Zhang et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

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* Address correspondence to this author at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work & Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M5S 1A1, Canada; Tel: 416 978-3269; Fax: 416 978-7072; E-mail:


Although the number of older people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) has increased substantially, few studies have focused on older PLWHA in developing countries. Based on a sample of 866 rural PLWHA in Henan, Anhui and Yunnan provinces in China, this study compares the characteristics of PLWHA aged 50 or older (n=185) with younger PLWHA (n=681). Most of the older PLWHA were female (n=112), illiterate, married and at the clinical stage of HIV. Over 90% of older people with HIV/AIDS lived in Henan and Anhui provinces. The severe epidemic in Henan and Anhui provinces was caused by commercial blood and plasma donation. Older PLWHA were less educated, received less social support and were more likely to live alone than younger PLWHA. The results underline the importance of developing programs and policy initiatives targeted at older people infected with HIV/AIDS. The policy and program recommendations include using a gender sensitive strategy, designing specific AIDS education and prevention programs suitable for low-literacy older adults and social support interventions for older PLWHA.

Keywords: : Asia, HIV/AIDS, human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, older adults, older people, rural China..