Growing Old With HIV

Thanks to the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment, it has been observed that the lifespan of people with HIV is practically equal to that of people who do not have the virus. Nevertheless, it’s also true that living with the infection does imply differences in lifestyles, which cannot be overlooked.

What is aging?

This is why increasingly; medical staff has focused on studying the aging process of people with HIV. But the first thing to know is: what is the aging process? It’s about the progressive deterioration in the body’s functioning. Older people are more prone to develop diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and other conditions related to age. 

The same thing happens to people who live with HIV. It’s unlikely that these people will get sick because of the virus, but they do develop these diseases. The rate of some of these conditions are even higher in people with HIV than in those without, and sometimes it would seem that some of these problems come up earlier in life in people with HIV. 

Is there any difference in people who live with HIV? 

According to the aidsmap.com website, it has been stated that there is a premature aging process in those who have the virus, also known as accelerated aging. However, there is still a lot that we don’t know about this, since there is no scientific consensus on the matter. 

What we do certainly know can be summarized in four points: people with HIV have high rates of some conditions related to age; there are many possible explanations for said rates, and not all of them are linked to HIV itself; there are many things that people can do to prevent these conditions and, above all, currently people with HIV have a very good health and lifespan. 

What measures can I take? 

So, if you live with HIV, there are measures you can take to prevent conditions related to aging from presenting themselves. First, taking your antiretroviral treatment and keeping your viral load undetectable. Second, always go to your doctor’s appointments, which will allow them to monitor your health and detect any problem early on. A third point is to take preventive medications, such as statins (used to control cholesterol), medications for blood pressure or others recommended by your doctor. 

A fourth point includes not smoking and limiting consumption of alcohol, which is also recommended for people who don’t have HIV. The fifth point could be summarized as improving habits: keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly and keeping a balanced diet. You can add to this, keeping an active brain (through reading, learning a new language or any activity which stimulates the mind) and keeping socially active. 

In short, certain risks have been identified for conditions related to aging in people with HIV, but it’s possible to control them with a close medical follow up. 

At AHF we can help you, if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment, how to lead a healthier lifestyle, etc. Write to us via WhatsApp or make an appointment here.