Introduction: The burden of HIV is increasing among adults aged over 50, who generally experience increased risk of cormorbid illnesses and poorer financial protection. We compared patterns of health utilisation and expenditure among HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults over 50. Methods: Data were drawn from the Study on global AGEing and adult health in South Africa with analysis focusing on individual and household-level data of 147 HIV-positive and 2725 HIV-negative respondents. Results: HIV-positive respondents reported lower utilisation of private health-care facilities (11.8%) than HIV-negative respondents (25.0%) (p = .03) and generally had more negative attitudes towards health system responsiveness than HIV-negative counterparts. Less than 10% of HIV-positive and HIV-negative respondents experienced catastrophic health expenditure (CHE). Women (OR 1.8; p < .001) and respondents from rural settings (OR 2.9; p < .01) had higher odds of CHE than men or respondents in urban settings. Over half the respondents in both groups indicated that they had received free health care. Conclusions: These findings suggest that although HIV-positive and HIV-negative older adults in South Africa are protected to some extent from CHE, inequalities still exist in access to and quality of care available at health-care services – which can inform South Africa’s development of a national health insurance scheme.
- South Africa
- older adults
- health expenditure
- catastrophic health expenditure