Ony Anukem|18.04.2018|Feature
HIV/AIDS and Ageing is an often overlooked issue.we’re putting a spotlight on the challenging issues facing the ageing population with regards to HIV prevention, testing, care facilities and treatment.

At the start of the epidemic almost 40 years ago, people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS were given a life expectancy of only 1-2 years after diagnosis. Consequently, the issue of ageing was not a major concern for HIV positive people and the HIV/AIDS sphere in general. However, thanks to technological and medical advancements the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved drastically, people with HIV diagnosed early and who can access and follow a course of ART can keep the virus suppressed. Worldwide, more than four million people 50 years and older are living with HIV, many of these people have been living with HIV for years (and living well); others are recently infected or diagnosed.

Okay 50 may not seem ‘old,’ considering David Guetta, Jamie Foxx, Nicole Kidman & Stacey Dash are all 50 or are turning 50 in 2018. However, 50 is often the age used to mark the beginning of ageing in regards to health-related statistics. Accordingly, issues related to getting and being older and living with HIV are a growing concern as this population continues to expand.

It’s a fact of life that as we grow older, we are more likely to experience other health conditions. Many of these issues that affect our health, that are associated with ageing, also affect people who are otherwise totally healthy, for example gradual loss of sight, becoming more forgetful, and menopause for women.

According to an article published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Ageing with HIV appears to increase the risk of experiencing illness, compared to people who do not have HIV, but the reasons for this are still not understood too well.  This could be because there are some unknown long-term effects of having HIV or lasting effects of being on HIV treatment, along with other non-related factors such as being overweight, smoking, being underweight.

So, today on National HIV/AIDS and Ageing Awareness Day – whilst we have a lot to think about in terms of making provisions for the worlds ageing HIV positive population; we also have a lot to celebrate as only a few decades ago HIV/AIDS was a death sentence.