A Significant Public Health Concern
Since the late 1990s with the development of HAARP (highly active anti-retroviral therapy), today HIV is considered a severe chronic condition that is pretty well managed. People who start HAARP early can anticipate living another 30 or 50 years and some well into old age. This creates a significant health concern as many of these people who are HIV develop other chronic illnesses like heart disease, kidney disease, or cognitive impairments tens of years ahead of their counterparts without HIV.
The NIA (National Institute on Aging) supports research for the better understanding of the needs of people with HIV, who are older and meeting those needs. This includes the basic studies that compare the changes in all levels (the cellular, organ, system, and individual systems). Researchers believe that these studies may not only help HIV treatment but the treatment of other diseases that related to age.
A Concern That Is Growing
The CDC advises that those people who are over 50 years old and living with HIV have grown rapidly. Those diagnosed with HIV age 50 and above was 32.7% in 2009 as opposed to 17% in 2001, this was due to HAART. Along with HAART, the Administration of Community Living about 17% of new cases of HIV is among people who are older.
HIV And Cognitive Aging
Treatments for HIV can have a profound effect on the mind. Dementia related to Aids, which was once very common, is now much lower. Researchers conclude that 50% of patients with HIV have an HIV HAND (associated neurocognitive disease).
The hand may include deficits in:
- Motor skills
- Memory or sensory perception
These problems may not be debilitating but can have an adverse effect on the patients’ quality of life.
What Is New In Medical Management Of HIV
In a 2012 report, a group of working professionals listed several overlapping problems, which will inform the NIA and help them move forward with research. The overlapping problems were:
- The need to emphasize the preservation of function
- The ramification of managing HIV and the background of treatment effects on aging, and incidental diseases
- The reciprocal mechanisms of immune infirmity, swelling, and thickening
- The need to accentuate human studies which will account for intricacy
- Put a spotlight on issues of community backing, caretakers, and system infrastructures
In the early days, management of HIV was pinpointed on disease-specific measures but as the population of people 50 years and above living with HIV increases, we need to promote new ways to approach HIV infection and its treatment as a complex chronic condition that interacts with aging changes, co-existing conditions, and the treatments for those conditions.