Back HIV Populations HIV & Aging UNAIDS Special Session Looks at HIV and Aging, New Report Examines Long-Term AIDS Survival

UNAIDS Special Session Looks at HIV and Aging, New Report Examines Long-Term AIDS Survival


A UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board meeting on December 8 addressed the challenges related to an aging population with HIV worldwide. In related news, activist Matt Sharp recently released a new report on long-term survivors living with HIV/AIDS.

Thanks to effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-positive people are surviving to older ages. About 15% of HIV-positive people worldwide are over age 50, but in San Francisco -- one of the earliest epicenters of the epidemic -- the proportion has reached 60%.

The PCB thematic session brought together representatives of civil society, governments, and development agencies to explore the experiences of people with HIV over 50 and to learn lessons from health, community, and social protection systems for older people.

"A successful AIDS response must continue to expand treatment access equitably, by providing people-centered, age-sensitive, and integrated health services," according to a UNAIDS press release. "[P]eople living with HIV must be supported to lead long and healthy lives, and people over 50 years of age should have equal access to social protection, employment, and social integration."

People over 50 are a diverse population, and HIV treatment, prevention, care, and support services must acknowledge and respond to the specific needs of older people who use drugs, older sex workers, and older gay men and transgender people.

AIDS Survival

Matt Sharp's report, entitled The Unintended Consequences of AIDS Survival, focuses on the unique story and aspects of HIV/AIDS survivorship in the U.S. and the resulting movement.

The report includes survivor needs assessment from the hardest-hit communities, evidence-based behavioral and clinical research, theoretical and historical accounts, best-practice program models, and information about advocacy and community mobilization efforts.

Notable efforts include the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network, the HIV Long-term SurvivorsFacebook group, the Reunion Project town hall meetings in various cities, the National Minority AIDS Council's HIV 50+ Strong and Healthy initiative, and trainings and programming for older people with HIV provided by the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA).

"In addition to the ongoing scientific advances toward HIV prevention and a cure, there are other reasons to celebrate," Sharp writes. "Chief among them is the fact that hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS are surviving well into old age -- something never imagined at the onset of the epidemic -- and their numbers are growing. Some of these survivors have lived half their lives with HIV/AIDS. But even this miraculous achievement has a downside: long-term survival with the disease and receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) has created some unexpected challenges."

The full report is available free online.



UNAIDS. UNAIDS PCB Session on Ageing and HIV Reaffirms that an Aging Population of People Living with HIV is a Measure of Success. Press release. December 12, 2016.

M Sharp. The Unintended Consequences of AIDS Survival. December 2016.