- Category: HIV & Aging
- Published on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 00:00
- Written by Liz Highleyman
National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (September 18) offers an opportunity to recognize the impact of HIV and AIDS among older adults. A growing body of evidence indicates that age-related immune decline and progression to age-associated conditions is more rapid in HIV positive people. The new Center for HIV and Aging at Gladstone is exploring the underlying mechanisms and working to discover interventions that could potentially help both people with HIV and the aging population as a whole.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 30% of Americans living with HIV/AIDS are age 50 or older. The number of older people with HIV has increased in recent years both due to effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) that is now keeping people alive longer -- even approaching the same life-span as the general population if they start treatment promptly -- and because more people are being newly diagnosed at an older age.
Studies suggest that HIV positive people -- especially those who sustained severe immune decline before starting effective antiretroviral treatment -- experience age-related chronic conditions sooner, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, neurocognitive impairment, and some types of cancer. Research has also found that people with HIV show signs of immune senescence, or age-related loss of function, at earlier ages.
In recognition of NHAAAD, the Gladstone Institutes, Project Inform, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation sponsored a community discussion and HIV and aging.
Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn from the University of California at San Francisco provided an overview of one process thought to play a key role in aging, the deterioration of telomeres at the ends of chromosomes and depletion of telomerase, a repair enzyme.
Robert Grant, Warner Greene, and Eric Verdin from Gladstone introduced some of the research underway at the Center for HIV and Aging -- which was just launched earlier this year -- and emphasized the need for more funding and community support.
Two community advocates, Anna Jackson and HIVandHepatitis.com contributor Matt Sharp, described their own experienced as people aging with HIV and their ideas about how the local community can contribute to the new center's work.
HIV and Aging Resources
HIVandHepatitis.com: HIV and Aging section
AIDS.gov:Aging with HIV/AIDS
The AIDS Institute: National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness web site
Gladstone. No Time to Lose -- NAAAHD Panel Discussion and Community Conversation. September 19, 2012.
AIDSinfo. National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. Web page. 2012.
AIDS.gov. National HIV/AIDS & Aging Awareness Day Webinar. Blog.AIDS.gov. September 14, 2012.