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National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day: Recognizing the Challenges of Growing Older With HIV/AIDS

September 21, 2012

The observance of the fifth National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day is a day when the challenges faced by people growing older with HIV are recognized, according to Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Medications have increased the lifespans of people living with HIV, and it is estimated that, by 2015, over half of all people living with HIV in the United States will be over age 50. Older Americans are at greater risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, as well as decreased bone density. African Americans and Latinos over age 50 display the same disparities noted in the United States HIV epidemic overall -- 12 times higher for African Americans and 5 times higher for Latinos compared with whites. This group is less likely to have access to clinical care, which impacts life expectancy and HIV transmission.

HIV prevention in people over age 50 also presents unique challenges. Clinicians are less likely to test persons over 50 for HIV since the overwhelming majority of new HIV infections in the United States are in younger people. Decreased testing results in older adults being diagnosed later in their disease progression. About 10% of the new HIV infections in the United States occur in persons over 50.

Research and programs addressing aging and HIV are increasing. The issue of HIV and aging was included in the 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States, and various agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Institutes of Health, are working to move the agenda forward. However, more needs to be done, and Federal efforts will continue to help people aging with HIV live longer, healthier lives.

[PNU Editor's Note: This blog may be found at:].

Back to other news for September 2012

Adapted from:
Office of National AIDS Policy Blog
09.18.2012; Dr. Grant Colfax

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.
See Also
More on Aging & HIV

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Bob (San Diego, CA) Thu., Jul. 4, 2013 at 4:56 am UTC
I am 81 years old and have been hiv positive for sixteen years. I am one of the anomalies whose viral count has been undetectable or very low throughout these years, but three years ago I began taking retroviral drugs because my t-cell count was low. I have had minimal to no side effects from these drugs. (I had saved many of my lab reports over the years and when I reviewed them, I discovered that my t-cell count showed a definite trend: each year it was lower than the year before). The drugs have helped, I assume. At least my t-cell count has gone up a bit and my immune system is working. I have never had opportunistic infections or other medical problems attributed to hiv. However, I have developed a problem: much of my skin itches. I was found to have scabies, which was treated successfully, but I continued to have severe problems with itching, and have welts, mild rashes, and pimple-like lesions. Recently I had four or five lesions that resembled (to me)shingles or herpes.

My dermatologist attributes my problems to dry skin and has me administering skin moisturizer to my entire body twice a day. It seems to give temporary relief, but I am now plagued with itching at night and have difficulty sleeping.

I don't know how many other people my age are hiv positive and if skin deterioration is a problem I share with them. Is there any literature on this condition? I find it has significantly lowered my quality of life which, except for run-of-the-mill medical problems associated with aging has been better than normal. I have a 20 year history of bladder cancer, and after initial surgery was in remission until two years ago. I underwent bcg treatment about a year ago and it appears to have been successful.

I lead a full life and appear to be in better shape than most of my peers. I find this itching problem harder to live with than any of my other medical problems.
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