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Medical News

Older AIDS Survivors Face New Challenges

June 6, 2011

The first sizeable group of AIDS patients to navigate the aging process is now faced with medical, psychological and financial obstacles that early patients could not imagine living to see.


CDC data note that upwards of 25 percent of US HIV patients are at least 50 years old. And, according to the latest Central Nervous System HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research study, 52 percent of Americans with HIV have a cognitive impairment, compared to 10 percent of the general population. The American Academy of HIV Medicine adds that HIV-positive people 55 and over are three times more prone to chronic illnesses -- such as hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer -- than uninfected 70 year olds.

"The problems people with HIV face are really changing," said Dr. C. Bradley Hare, medical director at San Francisco General Hospital. Hare recalls the days when his patients were primarily in their 20s and dying en masse. Now, his clinic's 3,000 HIV patients have an average age of 47.

Specialists are only beginning to have enough older HIV-patients to study to determine whether their ailments are due to the virus, drug treatments or the aging process. "You've been dealing with HIV for 30 years and you finally have that under control, and now you're facing a new raft of medical problems. It seems unfair," said Hare.

In addition, a 2006 AIDS Community Research Initiative of America study observed that long-term HIV survivors are nearly 13 times more likely to experience depression. Britain's Terrence Higgins Trust notes that aged AIDS patients are more apt to be unemployed or less financially solvent.

Back to other news for June 2011

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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