For the first decades after HIV and AIDS were discovered, patients could only expect to live for one or two years after diagnosis. While there is still no cure for AIDS or HIV, the success of antiretroviral therapy, or ART, is making it increasingly likely that people with this illness could live to an advanced age. This means that people with HIV or AIDS need to be aware of complications that may arise as a result of aging with the disease.
HIV and Aging Complications
When people living with AIDS or the virus that causes it follow their treatment plan, then they can expect to lead a long life. However, people who have this disease must be prepared for other illnesses that can come with aging as well as alterations to their physical and mental capabilities. Being aware of the complications that can come with aging may help prevent their onset.
Long-Term HIV Infection
People aging with HIV may not have AIDS, but they may be more susceptible to other conditions that are associated with HIV. These conditions include certain types of cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular disease and neurocognitive disorders that are associated with HIV. Because the risk of developing these diseases is elevated for people aging with HIV, it’s important to manage risk factors.
Aging and the Brain
Dementia related to AIDS is less common than it once was. However, HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder, or HAND, is occurring more often. With symptoms like depression and psychological distress, it’s vital for patients and caregivers to be on the lookout for the warning signs of HAND.
Aging is a difficult progression for everyone. However, there may be additional complications for those living with HIV or AIDS. Working with medical professionals is essential to maintaining physical and mental health over the long run.