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Healthcare Challenges for Aging HIV Population

June 20, 2024

More than half of the people living with HIV in the United States are 50 years old or older. Of the nearly 1.1 million people living with diagnosed HIV in the U.S. in 2022, approximately 54% were aged 50 and up, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NPR reported the majority (70%) of people living with HIV will hit that age range by 2030.

With the aging population of people with HIV, the U.S. healthcare system is not prepared to address the needs of these patients, said HIV advocates, doctors, government officials, people living with HIV, and researchers. Concerns include funding constraints, untrained providers, and workforce shortages, which ultimately could lead to poorer healthcare.

People with HIV can live longer with the virus due to effective treatment with HIV medicine called antiretroviral therapy or ART, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Like the general aging population, growing older with HIV garners a greater risk of other health conditions—including diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Still, people with HIV have an increased risk of health problems related to inflammation from the virus and the long-term use of harsh medications.

Additionally, older HIV positive people have a greater chance of developing these conditions at a younger age. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions also are at higher risk of getting very sick from respiratory viruses such as COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

While many of the people with diagnosed HIV have been living with the virus for several years, others were diagnosed later in life. People aged 50 and older accounted for approximately 16% of the 38,043 new HIV diagnoses in 2022 among people ages 13 and older in the U.S. and its territories.

In 2022, compared with 2018, rates of HIV diagnoses among persons ages 45 to 54 and 65 to 74 were decreasing and were stable in persons 55 to 64 and older than 75.

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