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January 7, 2008

Growing Older With HIV

Many older people living with HIV/AIDS are facing an unexpected battle with a variety of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, kidney failure, depression and cancer, reports The New York Times (nytimes.com, 1/6).

Though treatment advances have made it possible for people to live longer with HIV, and though the disease is now increasingly being viewed as manageable and chronic, the Times reports that toxicity of some of the lifesaving drugs, as well as positive people’s weakened immune systems, may make them vulnerable to a host of additional complications.

“AIDS is a very serious disease, but longtime survivors have come to grips with it,” said Charles A. Emlet, a leading HIV and aging researcher and a professor at the University of Washington at Tacoma. “Then all of a sudden they are bombarded with a whole new round of insults, which complicate their medical regime and have the potential of being life threatening. That undermines their sense of stability and makes it much more difficult to adjust.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people age 50 and older living with HIV increased 77 percent between 2001 and 2005, reports the Times. Some experts say that there is not enough research being conducted on AIDS and aging, limiting the potential for patient care.


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