Featured news from NHIVNA
HIV-related news from NAM
What is “successful ageing” for people living with HIV?
Roger Pebody, 2017-08-26 09:20:00
When Canadian researchers asked HIV-positive people over the
age of 50 how they would define “successful ageing”, six key themes emerged – accepting
limitations, staying positive, maintaining social support, taking
responsibility, living a healthy lifestyle, and engaging in meaningful
Writing in the International
Journal of STD & AIDS, Patricia Solomon and colleagues note the emphasis
on individual control. Clinicians and service providers should work with people
living with HIV to understand their values and aspirations and help them
identify their personal goals, the researchers say.
In relation to the general population, there are numerous
definitions and models of successful ageing. For example, some authors have
said it has three components: avoidance of disease, maintenance of cognitive
and physical function, and social engagement. However the concerns and
priorities of people with HIV may be different. The experience of stigma and
discrimination may mean that social isolation is a particular concern. Having already
dealt with health issues over many years, people with HIV have different
feelings about their physical health.
For a qualitative study on HIV, ageing and disability,
researchers in Ontario, Canada conducted a series of in-depth interviews with
older adults living with HIV. Each person was interviewed on four separate
occasions, over an 18 month period.
The 24 interviewees were aged between 50 and 73, with a mean
age of 57. Fourteen were male and 10 were female. The length of time since
their HIV diagnoses ranged from 6 to 30 years, with a mean of 18 years. While three-quarters
had an undetectable viral load, three-quarters also reported that they
experienced at least six “bothersome” symptoms. Only one in five was employed
and incomes tended to be low.
At the end of the fourth interview, participants were asked
how they would define successful ageing and to reflect on whether they
considered themselves to be ageing successfully. The six key themes that
emerged are described below.