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Aging and HIV: Top Questions and Answers

Compiled by Olivia Ford

March 8, 2016

Was it Bette Davis who famously said "Old age ain't no place for sissies"? It could easily have been anyone who's experienced the physical and emotional rigors of growing older -- especially those who are facing the effects of aging while living with HIV.

Questions abound: Are these new symptoms and challenges due to the normal aging process? The effects of HIV meds on an older body? Or the virus itself doing its worst over time?

Luckily, TheBody.com's experts -- a few of whom are experiencing growing older with HIV firsthand -- are on deck to respond to a wide range of readers' questions about aging with HIV.

Don't see your question? Ask it in our Ask the Experts forum on Aging With HIV!

Table of Contents


General

General

Q: Nine Tips to Add Quality, and Quantity, to Your Life

What steps can HIV-positive people take to extend their lives as much as possible? Read the answer ...

Q: Why Do I Feel Like I'm 80 Years Old When I'm Only 52?

I have had many challenges throughout all these years living with HIV. Despite seeking treatment, I am still worn out and in pain. What can I do to feel and live better? Read the answer ...

Q: Can I Really Live a Happy, Healthy Life With HIV?

I've been living with HIV for 30 years and have several challenging health issues. Is it really true that people can live well for this long with HIV? Read the answer ...

Q: 80 and Going Strong!

I seroconverted in 1985. I am going to be 80. I am still here and life is great. I know I will eventually die of old age, and until then I will use every minute up with gratitude -- no matter what it looks like. Read the answer ...


Life Expectancy and Prognosis

Life Expectancy and Prognosis

Q: What Is the "Right" Answer About Lifespan With HIV?

Is it possible to predict, at the time of their diagnosis, how a person's HIV will progress? Read the answer ...

Q: What's the Latest on HIV and Life Expectancy?

What is the deal with all the conflicting information I see regarding the average age of death for people with HIV? Read the answer ...

Q: Am I Aging Prematurely?

I am 55 years old; my health care providers have said my body is basically 75. What does this mean? Read the answer ...

Q: What Are My Chances of Living a Long Life?

I have been HIV positive since the 1990s. My HIV is under control; I work out, don't drink, eat well, and try to keep up my cognitive skills. Could I live another 20 years? Read the answer ...

Q: Why Do Life Expectancy Estimates Seem Inconsistent?

I've read that life expectancy for someone who is diagnosed with HIV at age 20 is somewhere around 70+ years, and that a 50-year-old has a 5-to-10-year prognosis. Why the discrepancy? Read the answer ...

Q: Can I Look Forward to Another Decade of Life?

I am HIV positive, 50 years old and had pneumonia one year ago. Are present-day medications effective enough to let me stay around for 10 more years? Read the answer ...


Treatment

Treatment

Q: Is It Too Late for HIV Meds to Help?

Can a 55-year-old who has never taken HIV meds still experience the benefits of treatment, even starting with a low CD4 count and opportunistic infections? Read the answer ...

Q: When I Retire, How Will I Afford Treatment?

I'm almost 63. I want to retire shortly after I'm 65, but how am I going to pay for my HIV meds while I'm on Medicare Part D? Read the answer ...

Q: What Can I Expect After 20 Years on HIV Meds?

What do we know about the long-term effects of HIV meds on a person's body? Read the answer ...

Q: Are There Programs to Help Me Through the Medicare "Donut Hole"?

When I turn 65 and drop my health insurance, will there be any programs that will cover me through the "donut hole" between Medicare's Part D coverage limit and the out-of-pocket spending cap? Read the answer ...

Q: Does Viagra Play Well With HIV Meds?

My libido seems to be decreasing since I started taking HIV meds. Can I take Viagra while I'm on Atripla? Read the answer ...

Q: Is It Worth It to Switch Meds After 20 Years?

I have been on the same HIV med regimen for almost 20 years. My doctor wants to change me to a one-pill-a-day regimen. What are the pros and cons? Read the answer ...

Q: What's Up With Ibalizumab for People With Multidrug-Resistant HIV?

Every time a person asks about ibalizumab, an experimental HIV drug in a unique class, the answer is: "No news yet." Is there any more specific update available? Read the answer ...

Q: Were My Meds Behind My Hair Loss?

I recently switched HIV treatment regimens, and my hair appeared to become less thin. Could my earlier HIV meds have caused hair loss? Read the answer ...


Nutrition, Exercise and Supplements

Nutrition, Exercise and Supplements

Q: Can Exercise Really Be Good for Your Brain?

What do you think of the recent study saying exercise can reduce neurocognitive impairment by half? Read the answer ...

Q: Supplements: Which Ones, How Much, and for How Long?

Which supplements should I take as I grow older with HIV, and in what dosages? Read the answer ...

Q: Did Exercise Improve My Neuropathy?

At one time I suffered serious neuropathy, for which medication was no help. Once I began exercising every day, the pain in my feet went away. Was it the exercise? Read the answer ...

Q: Should People With HIV Consider Telomere-Boosting Supplements?

I have been introduced a product that support the telomeres -- basically vitamins and herb blends. What are telomeres, and how does supporting them affect aging with HIV? Read the answer ...

Q: How Can I Curb Bloating Symptoms While Living With HIV?

I have been experiencing bloating and discomfort in my gut for months now. Could it have something to do with my diet? Read the answer ...


Cancer and Heart Disease Risk

Cancer and Heart Disease Risk

Q: Serious Health Concerns: What Do I Need to Watch Out For?

As a person living with HIV in my 50s, what do I need to know about ongoing monitoring for potential cancers and other health issues such as heart disease? Read the answer ...

Q: Which Cancers Are Common in People Living With HIV?

Which types of cancers are HIV-positive adults over 40 more likely to develop? Read the answer ...

Q: How Should I Treat Low-Grade Anal Dysplasia?

How worried should I be that my mild anal dysplasia will turn into anal cancer? Is consistent monitoring and treatment the key to curbing the condition before it becomes severe? Read the answer ...

Q: What About Treatment for High-Grade Anal Dysplasia?

Six months ago, my colorectal specialist found three areas of high-grade anal dysplasia -- and another three appeared two weeks ago. What's the best approach to treatment? Read the answer ...

Q: Should I Take Statins to Curb Heart Disease Risk?

Which statins do you prescribe to people with HIV to lower cholesterol? Are there more natural alternatives to these drugs? Read the answer ...

Q: Will My Medications Cause Serious Health Issues?

I have read that long-term use of HIV meds can cause serious health concerns, and that inflammation is pretty much guaranteed, even when a person keeps healthy and has an undetectable viral load. Is this true? Read the answer ...

Q: Should I Have My Ovaries Removed?

I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Does having HIV increase the risk that the cancer will spread to my ovaries? Read the answer ...

Q: How Can I Avoid Liver Cancer After Many Years Living With Hepatitis B?

I have been living with hepatitis B for almost 50 years, and on treatment for less than half that time. Should I be worried about my risks for developing liver cancer? Read the answer ...

Q: My Lipids Levels Are High; Now What?

My cholesterol and triglyceride numbers have always been extremely bad. I have made medication and lifestyle changes, but nothing seems to bring the numbers down. What are my options? Read the answer ...

Mental Health and Cognitive Function

Mental Health and Cognitive Function

Q: Can I Beat Memory Loss?

What can I do proactively to slow or prevent cognitive decline as I age? Read the answer ...

Q: My Mind Is Getting Worse; Is It HIV's Fault?

I have been living with HIV for 25 years. I'm in good health, but I can tell my cognitive function is declining. What can I do? Read the answer ...

Q: How to Deal With Extreme Fatigue and Depression?

I am doing well health wise after living with HIV for 29 years, but I have become so exhausted in recent years that it's affecting my mental health and quality of life. Is there anything that might help? Read the answer ...

Q: Could a Med Switch Alleviate My Neuro Disorder?

I was recently diagnosed with HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND). What's the best way to treat this? Read the answer ...

Q: Am I at Risk for Dementia?

Is it true that if you have HIV, you can get dementia? Read the answer ...

Q: What Can Be Done About HIV-Related Neurological Issues?

I am a long-term survivor and have been diagnosed with severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety. I also have a lot of memory problems. What's going on? Read the answer ...


Body Shape Changes

Q: What Are the Risks of Lipodystrophy Nowadays?

I have been reading a lot about lipodystrophy lately. Can you answer my questions about how great my risk is, and whether there are HIV meds I could switch to that would reduce that risk? Read the answer ...

Q: How Can I Get My Booty Back?

Back in the early 1990s, HIV meds did a liposuction job on my formerly nice, round butt. Any suggestions about exercise or other solutions that might help restore my glutes? Read the answer ...

Q: Forget About Curing HIV; What About Curing Lipodystrophy?

Why is there no exciting research underway looking for a cure for body shape changes in people living with HIV? Read the answer ...

Q: How Do I Get Rid of Frustrating Belly Fat?

I have that "deep fat" in my belly area that so many long-term HIV survivors talk about. The rest of me is thin; I work out and keep toned. Is there anything I can do to reduce the belly? Read the answer ...


Bone Health

Bone Health

Q: What's the Bone Screening Guidance for People Living With HIV?

Are there any recommendations for bone density screenings in HIV-positive people? Does age, length of time with HIV, treatment regimen or race change those recommendations? Read the answer ...

Q: Tips for Tending to My Bones (and Vitamin D Levels) When Living With HIV

I have low vitamin D that I attribute to the meds I take. I have been getting stress fractures in my feet because of this. What medication would be friendliest to my bones? Read the answer ...

Q: Hip Replacement: What Do I Need to Know?

At the age of 60, I'm now told that I need a hip replacement. Are there any factors related to my HIV that I should consider? Read the answer ...


Other Health Issues

Other Health Issues

Q: Where Did My Sex Drive Go?

I'm on HIV meds, and my libido has gone away. Are there any drugs, supplements or other approaches I can take to get it back -- and that won't interact with my treatment? Read the answer ...

Q: H. Pylori and HIV: What Do I Need to Know?

My partner and I are both living with HIV; we work out and have lean bodies but large guts. Our doctor suggested we be tested for H. pylori, and we both came up positive. What is known about this condition in people living with HIV? Read the answer ...

Q: How Can I Tell If This Is Neuropathy?

I have been on HIV drugs since 1992. In the past couple months I've had severe pain in my right leg. My doctor says it's neuropathy, but I'm skeptical. What could be causing this pain? Read the answer ...

Q: What's the Link Between HIV and Diabetes?

What percentage of people taking HIV meds eventually get diabetes? How often should an HIV specialist monitor his or her patients for diabetes? What can we do to monitor ourselves? Read the answer ...

Q: HIV and Sun Sensitivity?

I have been living with HIV for close to 20 years. I've noticed that I burn easily in the sun, and my eyes have become more sensitive to light. Could my HIV or the meds be playing a role? Is age a factor? Read the answer ...

Q: What Do I Need to Know to Take Care of My Gallbladder?

I may need to have surgery to remove my gallbladder. Is there anything I should be cautious of because I'm HIV positive? Read the answer ...

Q: What's the Link Between Testosterone Treatment and Prostate Issues?

My HIV doctor seems unconcerned about my potential risk for prostate cancer, but my urologist wants me to have a prostate biopsy -- and may cut off my testosterone replacement therapy if I don't do so. What should I do? Read the answer ...

Q: What's Behind My Skin Issues?

I have been living well with HIV for 26 years, but I have dark gray/brown patches on my face and groin. It seems to get worse as I get older. Could this be HIV related? Read the answer ...


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