How is HIV different in older people?
Apr 6, 2008
Hi. I'm 64 years old and just recently diagnosed with HIV. Most of the stuff I see about dealing with HIV is meant for younger people, and it talks about living a full life and being active and healthy and all the usual stuff. I'm not saying I'm not active, but I'm not 24 or 34 or 44, either. Can I expect HIV to work different in me than it does in someone half my age?
Response from Dr. Moyle
Not really. The thing about being older is that aging has an effect on the quality of your immune system, rate of immune recovery and possibly the pharmacology of some drugs. One thing we know about older patients is that they tend to be better tablet takers, a key driver of success with treatment. As the CD4 recovers more slowly in older (>40 years) people due to the involution (retirement) of the T-cell producing thymus gland it makes sense to start HIV treatment when your CD4 cell count is a bit higher, say more around 350-400 if possible. You can expect the numbers to rise more slowly than you might read is normal. However, the speed at which the virus getts under control (typically 4-6 months into treatment to be undetectable) should be the same. Your doctor will warn you about potential side effects of medicines and watch out or them. You will need to tell your HIV doctor if you have any other health problems, allergies etc and what other medicines you are taking. All your doctors whould know about your HIV and communicate regularly. Regarding activity, the aim is to be as active as possible for you age and health, so no need to behave like a 24 year old.
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