Health

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Better Medications Mean a New Generation of Seniors with HIV and AIDS

September 22, 2008 05:55 AM
by Emily Coakley
Doctors wonder how normal aging issues will affect people with HIV and AIDS as the diseases become more manageable and less life threatening.

An Aging Population with HIV/AIDS

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HIV and AIDS treatment has progressed so far that the disease, which used to mean certain death, can now be managed with a mix of medications. As a result, many people with HIV and AIDS are living longer, past middle age. Newsweek examines the issues that surround treating an aging population with HIV.

According to the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, 70 percent of people with HIV are 40 or older, Newsweek reports.

“It’s very much to me kind of a good news-bad news situation right now,” Bill Stackhouse told Newsweek. He’s head of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, one of the oldest AIDS-service organizations, based in New York City. “The good news is that the meds are great, and people are living longer. But now there’s a whole new set of issues to be faced.”

“Fifteen years ago, to talk about ‘aging with HIV’ would have been a cruel joke,” wrote Alan Lee, an HIV nutritionist in Yonkers, N.Y., in HIV Positive magazine.

Now it’s time for older people with HIV to pay attention to other aspects of their health, he said.

“If you have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, it is more important than ever to follow your doctor’s orders and bring those conditions under control. They may represent a bigger danger than your HIV!” Lee wrote.

“Having been HIV-positive for so long, and lived through the earliest part of the epidemic, I think the notion was that it would kill us long before there was any question of any other physical ailments,” Mark Stewart, 53, of New York City, told Newsweek.

Related Topic: Underestimating HIV rates

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the number of Americans who get AIDS each year is “40 percent higher than previously stated,” according to findingDulcinea. Better testing and statistical methods led to the revision.

Reference: AIDS Web Guide

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