Meeting the Changing Medical Needs of the Aging Population with HIV
SEPTEMBER 08, 2013
Ruth J. Hickman, MD
During a Sunday seminar at the 2013 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD, provided an overview of the growing percentage of HIV-positive individuals who are over the age of fifty. Dr. Brennan-Ing, the Director for Research and Evaluation at AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA), told the audience, “This has been a real success story that so many people are aging with HIV, but there are a number of challenges to this success.”
Dr. Brennan-Ing noted that the demographics of AIDS in America have shifted markedly since the introduction of successful antiretroviral drugs. “By 2015, half of all people living with HIV in this country will be age 50 or over,” he said. Though these medications account for the bulk of this trend, Dr. Brennan-Ing also thinks it is important to realize that approximately eleven percent of all new HIV infections are occurring in people over the age of 50.
Many of these older adults with HIV are also sexually active. The ROAH study (Research on Older Adults with HIV) was one of the first studies to look at sexual activity in older adults with HIV. It found that about twenty percent of these adults were having unprotected sex with people without HIV (or of unknown status).
One of the key findings of the ROAH study was that these individuals have about three times as many additional comorbidities as elderly community members without HIV. For example, Dr. Brennan-Ing noted that, for unknown reasons, the percentages of older adults with vision or hearing loss is much higher in those with HIV. Arthritis, hypertension, broken bones, and depression are other conditions that are more common in older adults with HIV.