In the early years of the epidemic, there were few who thought that we would ever focus on HIV and aging. In fact, many providers are still not facing the massive change in the age of people with HIV and the challenges that come with it.
Although we are seeing new HIV infections in people over 50, the main reason for the rising number of older adults with HIV is better HIV medications. In 1985, a 20-year-old with AIDS might expect to live only to age 22. Today, that 20-year-old can look forward to an almost normal lifespan. This year, half of those living with HIV in the U.S. will be over 50. By 2020, that number may rise to 70%.
But HIV is not the only health issue these older adults face. Research shows that people with HIV have an increased risk of many illnesses associated with aging. These conditions, including heart disease, cancers, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and others, are occurring more often and sometimes earlier than expected. Also, mental health conditions like depression are common among those with HIV.