By Barrett White
According to the 2020 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Annual Client-Level Data Report, 47.9 percent of RWHAP clients are aged 50 and older.
People living with HIV are getting older.
That’s fantastic news – this means that HIV suppression methods are working, and that those living with HIV are living longer lives, with life expectancies comparable to those not living with HIV. September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAD). NHAAD brings attention to issues related to HIV among older Americans, including new infections among older adults and adults over 50 aging with HIV.
People aging with HIV can face challenges during treatment that are mostly unique to that age group, such as drug interactions between HIV medicines and medicines used to treat other conditions common in the aging demographic. Also, the risk for comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers, bone fractures/osteoporosis, liver disease, kidney disease, cognitive decline, and aging-related frailty is higher among people with HIV than among those without HIV.
Observance of NHAAD emphasizes the need for data that is specifically focused on the aging population so that providers – and patients themselves – understand the aging process and its impact on people living with and affected by HIV.
Here are some tips from the CDC
Get tested. CDC reports that among the adults aged 55 or older who received an HIV diagnosis in 2015, 50% had been living with HIV for over four years before they were diagnosed. Delaying your diagnosis means treatment is also delayed, which gives HIV more time to damage the immune system. Quicker diagnosis means quicker treatment.
Treatment as Prevention. Adding PrEP to your regimen can prevent HIV transmission by up to 99% per the CDC.
Did you know that Legacy offers free HIV testing? To schedule an HIV test with your Legacy provider, visit us online or call (832) 548-5000. Walk-in HIV testing is also available.