Patients with HIV are living longer because of the remarkable strides that have been made in understanding and treating both the virus and the complications associated with it. Psychiatry has become increasingly important to HIV care providers because of the high rates of psychiatric comorbidity found in HIV populations. Psychiatric disorders not only play a role in the behaviors that get people infected but also have a profound influence on heath care access and adherence to medical recommendations. Unfortunately, not much research has been done in the area of geriatric HIV psychiatry, but there is some useful information from the geriatric psychiatry literature that bears directly on treating patients with HIV, and psychiatric studies in younger patients with HIV that are applicable to elderly HIV-infected patients. The “elderly” among the HIV population typically refer to those living with HIV over the age of 50 years. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that between the years 2001 and 2005, the estimated number of persons living with HIV in 33 states and U.S.-dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV reporting increased by 77% (1). At the end of 2005, 24.4% of people living with HIV were above the age of 50 years, an increase from 16.8% in 2001 (1). The elderly HIV patients consist of two populations, the long-term HIV survivors and older adults who are newly infected. The time to diagnose HIV in the elderly has been shown to be delayed (2). In the elderly, initial symptoms of fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath, and poor memory may be mistakenly attributed to the aging process. Prevention efforts generally have not included the elderly in efforts to increase safe sex practices (condom use), and there is less of an issue of pregnancy in this population, and finally, many of these patients developed their sexual practices in the pre-HIV era, leading to risky behavior. This coupledwith inadequate supporting structures increases the risk of HIV acquisition in the elderly (3).
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||HIV and Aging|
|Number of pages||8|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2008|
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