World AIDS Day is dedicated to fighting stigma and discrimination, and raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We mark this day by, in turn, raising awareness of older people with HIV.
Incidence and prevalence of HIV in older people is increasing. In the UK one in five adults with HIV is aged over 50. This is a consequence both of the expansion in uptake of HIV testing and diagnosis and major improvements in treatments which are helping people with HIV to live longer.
The fact that older people with HIV are living longer where there is access to treatment is a cause for celebration but it also brings challenges for geriatric medicine. Older people with HIV commonly experience co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dementia. Medical management of HIV in older people requires considerations of complex drug interactions and co-morbidities.
Early diagnosis of HIV is key to improving prognosis. Treatment with highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) significantly prolongs life expectancy, however it is associated with an increased risk of side effects in older patients. Continue reading →
Population ageing remains a continuous challenge for health care providers due to the escalating number of patients with chronic conditions. This represents a considerable economic burden for health systems across the globe. Ever since its debut in the 80’s, prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has captured the attention of the scientific community. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) radically modified the paradigm of living with HIV by prolonging survival and improving the prognosis of a previously terminal disease. Today, thanks to HAART, HIV is a chronic condition with a life expectancy similar to that of the general population and a significantly improved quality of life. However, the changes in survival for HIV infected individuals have unearthed the appearance at an earlier age of health problems that used to be observed exclusively in older adults. Continue reading →
Richard Walker is a Consultant Geriatrician at North Tyneside General Hospital, and Honorary Professor of Ageing and International Health at Newcastle University. He has a research interest in non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is Associate International Director for SSA for the Royal College of Physicians, London. He is the Clinical Lead for the Northumbria / Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre health link and Chair of the Movement Disorders Society African Task Force. In this blog article he discusses the growing challenge of ageing in Africa.
Fátima Brañas is a consultant geriatrician and the clinical lead for orthogeriatrics at the Infanta Leonor University Hospital in Madrid (Spain). She holds a PhD, specializing in HIV infection in older adults, and is working hard in this field—from both a clinical and a research point of view—to provide all the benefits of a geriatric assessment for older HIV-infected adults. She recently co-authored ‘Frailty and physical function in older HIV-infected adults‘ @FatimaBranas
The HIV-infected population is aging due to the success of combination antiretroviral therapy, which prolongs survival, and also because of the growing number of newly diagnosed cases in older adults. Nowadays, over half of people infected with HIV are older than fifty years, which is the age cutoff accepted by the scientific community to consider someone an HIV-infected older adult. Fifty is only their chronological age, but biologically they are older, as accelerated aging in this population has been demonstrated. So, it seems that in the coming years, HIV care is going to be focused on a growing group of older adults and their specific problems. This means more than only survival, infection control, or avoiding the adverse events caused by antiretroviral drugs; it also includes consideration of comorbidities, polypharmacy, functional decline, and geriatric syndromes. Continue reading →
A new paper published online today in Age and Ageing argues that despite a year-on-year increase in the number of people over the age of 50 being diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), there is a reluctance of healthcare professionals to offer HIV tests to older people. This results in high rates of “late presentation” and therefore significantly increased mortality.
According to the article by Dr Eva Bunting and colleagues, of the Royal Sussex County Hospital, the proportion of older patients in the UK living with HIV has increased significantly. They quote the most recent Public Health England data, which shows that of an estimated 73,660 people living with HIV, in 2002 12% (3,640) were over 50 years old, while in 2011 that figure rose to 22% (16,550). In Brighton, where Professor Martin Fisher is based, this figure is as high as 35%.
There have been dramatic developments in HIV management since the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in 1996, but as the population of older people living with HIV increases, new challenges continue to emerge. Continue reading →
Daniel Davis is a Research Training Fellow at the Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University and SpR in Geriatric Medicine at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals.
It has recently become clear that HIV is increasingly affecting the older population. Notifications of new infections to the UK Health Protection Agency are rising in the over 50s, and this subgroup presents different characteristics compared to those typically associated with the HIV epidemic.
Of course, better treatments mean that life expectancy is now much greater in those with chronic infection, and so prevalence of HIV is increasing among those in their fifties and sixties. But this is not the area of concern. Continue reading →