Amida Care Now

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day: Keeping Up with a Thriving Population

More Americans living with HIV are living longer than ever, thanks to effective medical treatment. According to a report from the recent Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the population of HIV-positive people over age 65 almost doubled from 2013 to 2017, soaring from 53,000 to 92,000. While this is a wonderful testament to medical progress, researchers foresee a “silver tsunami” of multimorbidity, polypharmacy, and health care costs for U.S. residents living with HIV in the coming decade. Projections show that one quarter of antiretroviral therapy (ART) users will be 65 or older in 2030, while multimorbidity in the older HIV population will rise sharply by 2030.

September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day—a time to call attention to the growing number of people living long and full lives with HIV and to aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.

A key issue for those over 50 is management of HIV treatment along with medications for age-related conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis. At Amida Care, over 40 percent of our members are over the age of 50, a percentage that continues to increase. Amida Care’s pharmacy team works closely with patients and providers to avoid drug interactions and to ensure uninterrupted access to care. We have long been aware of the urgent need for tackling the issue of aging and HIV.

There are many reasons that older Americans living with HIV often experience more health issues than their younger counterparts. Older adults are generally diagnosed with HIV at a later stage, which means they start treatment late and possibly suffer more immune-system damage. Since early signs of HIV may be confused with other age-related conditions, older adults are not always tested as early as they should be. Additional challenges include:

  • Older people are less likely to talk about their sexual habits to their doctors, who are less likely to ask.
  • Medical providers don’t always test older adults for HIV because of misconceptions that they are no longer sexually active.
  • There is often stigma around HIV among older adults, especially in the LGBTQ community, who may not seek testing or treatment due fear of discrimination.

All of these challenges should be addressed in programs and services that focus specifically on the aging HIV population. Proposed legislation in New York State would add older LGBTQ New Yorkers and those living with HIV/AIDS to the definition of communities of “greatest social need,” for the purpose of providing more services and programs.

With each passing year, Americans living with HIV are living longer and better. The U.S. health care system must adapt quickly to keep up with this population and ensure that they can access the care they need to continue living and thriving!

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