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AIDS Management

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The Graying of the AIDS Epidemic

By Liza Berger, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)

Also, many older adults with the virus are in lower socio-economic groups. Staying “in shape” is not as easy for them because they may not have the means to join a gym, Gebo said. Exercising is important in helping reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which are more common in older people.
 
Caregiving could present another financial burden as many older adults may need to rely on paid caregivers, such as home health aides.
 
Problems to Solve 
 
Many answers still elude scientists regarding this population with HIV. Still a mystery is the precise cause of certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, in older adults with HIV. Is it the medication? The aging process? Or the disease itself, which can cause dementia in younger adults? Neurological problems can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, opportunistic infections or ARVs. Also, how much HIV is worsening co-morbidities, such as heart disease and diabetes, remains unclear.
 
Gebo is working on fine-tuning drug regimens for elderly people living with AIDS to reduce the pill burden and offer the best combination of therapies.
 
Another quandary doctors face with this population is what to treat first. For example, is it more important to treat the HIV or the tuberculosis? Those are just some of the new questions that scientists are grappling with as the population with the disease continues to age.
 
There no doubt is still a lot to figure out regarding this population. Exacerbating the problem for researchers is that drug companies have not included older people in clinical trials of new drugs. Clearly, that has to change. The population of people with HIV is not getting any younger.

 

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