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Aging with HIV: New Research Sheds Light on a Growing Population

Older man's hand holding medication

By David Martin, PhD, ABPP (Senior Director, APA Office on AIDS

The Office on AIDS is pleased to have played a small supporting role in the publication of the just-released special issue of Behavioral Medicine, in which six articles on HIV and aging were published this month. These articles represent an important extension of existing knowledge in this emerging area of research and clinical work because:

  1. The introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has greatly increased the life expectancy of people living with HIV; people currently infected in their 20s, 30s and 40s are expected to live into their 60s,

  2. People 50 years of age and older currently account for 17% of new HIV infections,

  3. In 2010, people over 50 living with HIV accounted for 36% of all people living with HIV, and the CDC has suggested that as early as next year, people over 50 years of age will account for over half the people living with HIV in the United States,

  4. People 50 years old and older accounted for:

  5. 17% of all new HIV infections in 2011,

  6. 25% of new AIDS diagnoses in 2011,

  7. 36% of people living with HIV in 2010,

  8. 52% of AIDS deaths in 2010.

The series of articles in this special edition was edited by Drs. Timothy Heckman and Perry Halkitis; it partially represents an extension of a symposium entitled “Health Disparities: Emerging Biopsychosocial Challenges of Older Adults Living with HIV,” presented at the 2014 Convention of the American Psychological Association.

It includes articles on:

  1. HIV/AIDS in older women,

  2. smoking and HIV-related health issues,

  3. substance use and sexual risk differences between older bisexual and gay men,

  4. neurocognitive implications of HIV/AIDS among older HIV-positive Latina/o adults,

  5. depression and treatment efficacy on an HIV secondary prevention intervention for HIV-positive middle age and older adults, and

  6. sexual identity and group teletherapy for adults aging with HIV.

The articles are intended to be a contribution to the emerging literature on HIV and aging and to facilitate the development of age-appropriate and culturally-contextualized interventions to reduce sexual risk behavior, increase cART adherence, improve psychological well-being, and reduce the impact of comorbid health conditions on the growing population of adults aging with HIV.

Some of the articles may be accessed free of charge at

We encourage your review of these articles.

Image source: Flickr via Creative Commons

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