Getting older often presents health complications, but for people ageing with HIV there is now some help at hand.

A new booklet, Ahead of Time: A Practical Guide for Growing Older with HIV, has been released by the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) this month to give some timely advice on the complex medical issues older people living with HIV face.

NAPWA Health Treatments and Research Unit senior coordinator Peter Canavan told Southern Star ageing and HIV is an area the health sector needs to address.
“We do have changes in our epidemiology, We’ve got an ageing population and it does have implications for service provision. There are real clinical concerns,” he said.

The booklet has a full list of service care providers aware of the issues, along with easy-to-read information about new medical and social challenges and the best ways to maintain ongoing health.

NAPWA estimates there are around 19,000 people living with HIV in Australia. Just over 30 percent are over 49 years old.
According to National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research data, before 1999 17 percent of people diagnosed with HIV were aged 40-49 years, and about 9 percent diagnosed were over 50.

Between 1999 and 2007, this number jumped to 22 percent of new diagnoses in the 40–49 age bracket, and 13.2 percent in the 50-plus category.

Canavan said now people with HIV are living longer, fuller lives, aged care facilities and nursing homes must be better prepared to provide appropriate care.

“Aged care is not really geared up,” he said. “We need to think what does [ageing with HIV] mean in terms of the way we operate our services and care?

“People with HIV, who may need specialist care, may be managed by an oncology specialist, a liver specialist, a HIV specialist. [The aged care system] needs streamlining and improvements in its coordination of care.”

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