HIV and “Accelerated Aging”
Numerous studies have discovered that as people with HIV live longer thanks to more effective drugs and better treatment strategies, they may experience age-related health changes earlier than their HIV-negative counterparts.
In a Q&A with the San Francisco Chronicle, excerpted below, Dr. Mark Holodniy of Stanford University tackles the interactions between the virus, the meds, and the aging process—and what lies ahead for HIV and aging research. (Keep reading after the excerpt for more on current research and resources.)
By Erin Allday
Published September 25, 2012
Dr. Mark Holodniy, an infectious-disease professor at Stanford, was director of the HIV clinic and AIDS Research Center at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System for more than 20 years, during which time he saw dramatic changes in HIV treatment. The life expectancy of patients has been pushed back decades because of the success of antiretroviral drugs, but now those patients are experiencing symptoms of accelerated aging, possibly because of the virus, the drugs or some combination of factors. Holodniy started noticing signs of early aging in his patients about a decade ago and now, as the VA’s director of public health surveillance and research, sees the problem on a national scale.
Q: What are some of the signs of early aging that you’ve seen in HIV-positive patients?
A: We’re seeing more frequent cardiovascular diseases, cancers that are not HIV related, more diabetes, bone loss. These are all things I struggle with in clinic on a daily basis, and the HIV part of it ends up taking a backseat. Many people in the field feel comfortable that what we’re seeing is a rapid aging process in people who are HIV infected….
Want to know more about HIV and aging? Need resources for managing HIV and your health as you get older? Check out this BETA post for research news, expert opinions, and resources.