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Open Access Research article

HIV behavioural interventions targeted towards older adults: a systematic review

Joel Negin1*, Aneuryn Rozea1 and Alexandra LC Martiniuk123

Author Affiliations

1 Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Edward Ford Building (A27), Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

3 George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:507  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-507

Published: 26 May 2014

Abstract

Background

The increasing number of people living with HIV aged 50 years and older has been recognised around the world yet non-pharmacologic HIV behavioural and cognitive interventions specifically targeted to older adults are limited. Evidence is needed to guide the response to this affected group.

Methods

We conducted a systematic review of the available published literature in MEDLINE, Embase and the Education Resources Information Center. A search strategy was defined with high sensitivity but low specificity to identify behavioural interventions with outcomes in the areas of treatment adherence, HIV testing uptake, increased HIV knowledge and uptake of prevention measures. Data from relevant articles were extracted into excel.

Results

Twelve articles were identified all of which originated from the Americas. Eight of the interventions were conducted among older adults living with HIV and four for HIV-negative older adults. Five studies included control groups. Of the included studies, four focused on general knowledge of HIV, three emphasised mental health and coping, two focused on reduced sexual risk behaviour, two on physical status and one on referral for care. Only four of the studies were randomised controlled trials and seven – including all of the studies among HIV-negative older adults – did not include controls at all. A few of the studies conducted statistical testing on small samples of 16 or 11 older adults making inference based on the results difficult. The most relevant study demonstrated that using telephone-based interventions can reduce risky sexual behaviour among older adults with control reporting 3.24 times (95% CI 1.79-5.85) as many occasions of unprotected sex at follow-up as participants. Overall however, few of the articles are sufficiently rigorous to suggest broad replication or to be considered representative and applicable in other settings.

Conclusions

More evidence is needed on what interventions work among older adults to support prevention, adherence and testing. More methodological rigourised needed in the studies targeting older adults. Specifically, including control groups in all studies is needed as well as sufficient sample size to allow for statistical testing. Addition of specific bio-marker or validated behavioural or cognitive outcomes would also strengthen the studies.

Keywords:
Older adults; HIV; Interventions; Systematic review; Effectiveness