Thanks to a variety of antiretroviral medications available, especially the widely used HAART combination therapy, those who contracted HIV/AIDS from the 1990s on and have been able to maintain drug compliance, are aging longer with the disease, something that is recognized with National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day each year on Sept. 18.
Many recently diagnosed older adults had been in monogamous (i.e. safe sex) relationship, so they hadn’t paid attention to warnings about a condition they figured they weren’t ever going to get. However, as spouses and or partners died, they re-entered the world of singledom and began having sex with new partners, putting them at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
- half the people with AIDS and nearly 20 percent of those newly diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. are over the age of 50
- 55 percent of newly diagnosed cases of AIDS in older adults are not diagnosed in bisexuals and/or men who have sex with men (MSM)
- older adults are far more likely than younger adults to be diagnosed with and treated for HIV/AIDS late in the course of the condition
- older adults have a shorter survival after an HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
Covering HIV/AIDS and aging
There are lots of stories about HIV/AIDS and aging that need covering. And excellent resources to help you cover – and localize – them.
- Call the geriatric departments at local hospitals and medical schools and the county health department.
- If you have an AIDS advocacy group in your area, speak with its executive director.
- If you live in a region where there are lots of retirement/55-plus communities, call their directors…and keep calling until they take your call.
In addition, there are also good online resources to provide background info and help frame/focus articles.
HIV and Aging: State of Knowledge and Areas of Critical Need for Research; Care of the aging HIV patient; and A Guide to LGBT Caregiving provide excellent information on and insight into the medical care of older adults with HIV/AIDS.
AARP’s “Caregivers of Older Adults: A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50+” is an excellent backgrounder on the physical, financial, and emotional issues that partners and/or family caregivers deal with as they care for older adults with a complex chronic condition.
Averting HIV and AIDS is a British organization that’s doing an excellent job of covering HIV/AIDS research, education and advocacy here in the U.S., and you’ll benefit from getting their “outsiders” view of our efforts.
And finally, you might also want to cover research aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention. Currently, the two most promising areas of research focus on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and anti-viral protection.