With effective treatments the large majority of people living with HIV live long and healthy lives. As a result, access to health care and HIV related services, managing co-morbidities, and aging become a concern. Keep in mind the following:
- Just as in the general population, for PHAs the personal realities of aging depend a great deal on lifestyle, genetics, access to primary health care, etc. For all PHAs managing HIV can be a difficult task, but as PHAs it is more important than ever to be diligent about your health as you age. Things like diet, exercise and managing your health plays a more important role in aging PHAs than we thought a few years ago. And the older we get, the more crucial that role becomes.
- We now know that the risks associated with addiction, the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances, nutrition and other factors have a huge impact on one’s health.
- Even when HIV is well controlled, deaths among PHAs due to cancer, cardiovascular/heart disease, kidney and liver disease continue to occur at higher rates.
- The issues associated with treatment of HIV become more complex with age. This is because the chances of having other diseases that also require treatment, including high blood pressure, arthritis or even cancer, also increase with age.
- Issues such as income and savings, housing, education, employment and job security, migration status, etc. are real predictors of long term health.
- The impact of social isolation is also significant. Older adults living with HIV tend to be more socially isolated than their younger peers.
Knowing this, it is important that you consider how you engage with community, reach out to service providers and connect with peers.