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Aging and HIV… Let’s Talk!


The Canadian AIDS Society, with the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation, and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, invites people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS to be part of a national conversation on March 25, 2015 (by teleconference) from 2:00 to 4:00pm (EDT).
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"You are a whole and complete human being; you are not only a person living with HIV. You have a past, a present, and a future. You have lived a good long time and continue to have experiences. Sometimes, you might seem to be defined by your diagnosis; maybe not by yourself, but by others around you. By accepting that limited definition of who you are, you limit yourself. You may see only the virus and not your whole being. Living with HIV is just a facet of your everyday life. HIV will be with you the rest of you life, but HIV does not always determine the path for your future."
(Module 10, “One Foot Forward, A GIPA Training Toolkit”)

Much has changed since the 'early days of AIDS' and there is much to celebrate. Treatment advances (new drugs, rehabilitation services, alternative and complimentary therapies, and traditional [non-Western] medicines) have made it possible to live longer with HIV and to enjoy a better quality of life.

For many, undetectable viral loads, 'normal' CD4 cell counts and sustained virologic responses have replaced AIDS-defining illnesses and opportunistic infections. In fact, many of us might say that 'viral status' has moved down our priority list. HIV is a chronic condition we manage relatively easily most of the time. As we get older, HIV may even take its place as a co-morbidity behind more pressing health and social issues in our lives. People living with HIV no longer focus on preparing for imminent death, but instead set courses for long, vibrant lives.

We’ve been hearing a lot about HIV and Aging. But how often do we talk about Aging with HIV? Is it the same thing? What if shifting the conversation paves the way for us to think about it like this: I don't live with HIV; HIV lives with me! I might be young with a young infection; I might be young with an aging infection. I might be an older adult or a senior with an old infection. I might be an older adult or a senior with a young infection. Regardless, I'm aging and my HIV is along for the ride.

It’s time for a chat about what it’s like to grow older with HIV. Let’s talk about…..

…how we fit in. As we age, how connected are we to those around us? Can we express how we feel physically, mentally or emotionally without being dismissed by others who say we’re ‘just getting old’? If we are older, how often do we keep to ourselves because we fear that we can't relate to the "younger generation"? Do we have the energy to keep up with the baby boomers we see on TV and magazines?

…getting the care and support we need as we age, or as the HIV which lives with us ages. Do our options (outside of primary care) become more limited as we age, or does getting older open the door to a wider range of services?

…what the future holds. Should we be worried about age-related conditions and how they will impact us? If we reach a point where our health concerns become too complex to manage, or we are tired of a revolving door of tests, treatments and procedures, what are our options? Can we have a say in what our care will look like? Can we talk about the end stages of our lives before we’re too old or too sick?

...our partners. How do the dynamic relationships we navigate with our long-term partners, whether or not they are also living with HIV, affect our daily lives? Are we too old to meet someone new?

…change. What’s new as we age? What have we had to let go of? How do we reconcile outliving so many others?

What do you think? Let's talk! Please contact Jeff Potts, National Programs Consultant at the Canadian AIDS Society, to register by March 22, 2015.

Jeff’s telephone number is (613) 230-3580 or (800) 499-1986, extension 119. His e-mail address is jeffp@cdnaids.ca.

Aging and HIV… Let’s Talk!. © Canadian AIDS Society. Published 03/09/2015. Updated 03/10/2015. Web. Retrieved 07/30/2016 from http://www.cdnaids.ca/agingandhiv