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U.S. News

California: Drugs Help AIDS Patients Live Well Into Senior Years

December 7, 2005

Experts predict that in the coming decade, more AIDS patients will join the ranks of seniors, thanks to drug treatments that extend their lives. The proportion of Los Angeles County residents with AIDS age 50 and older has grown from 14 percent in 1997 to more than 25 percent in 2004. About 6 percent are 60 or older.

"We will often joke in the clinic that the least of a person's problems is HIV," said Eric Daar, chief of HIV medicine at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "Their viral counts may be low, but they have diabetes or high blood pressure."

Doctors are concerned that they are only now beginning to learn the long-term side effects of AIDS drug cocktails. "This is really new territory," said Michael Montgomery, head of the Office of AIDS for the California Department of Health Services. "Antiretroviral drugs are highly toxic medications, and we seem to be seeing problems with heart disease and other illnesses."

The cost of AIDS treatment rises with a person's age. The state's average cost for treating patients ages 51-60 is $9,007 per year, compared with $7,609 for patients ages 18-30. After age 60, the average per-patient cost to the state is $9,421 per year. Currently, 44 percent of Los Angeles residents with AIDS are ages 40-49.

Back to other news for December 7, 2005

Adapted from:
Daily News of Los Angeles
12.01.05; Rachel Uranga

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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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