The earlier onset of comorbidities discussed in the previous topic means that as people living with HIV get older, they may have a reduced healthspan. This is a concept we discussed in Topic 1.3.

This means they may experience disability sooner than people living without HIV. They may also experience limitations on core activities and require help from others much earlier in life.

Other terms to describe this experience include premature ageing, accelerated ageing or accentuated ageing.

There are several ways that accelerated ageing might present in older people living with HIV.

Older people may have unsteady or slow walking. They may experience falls or show signs of confusion and delirium.

These signs may indicate an older person is experiencing frailty.

Common signs of frailty can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Weakness (for example reduced grip strength)
  • Slow walking speed
  • Low physical activity

An older person living with HIV who experiences frailty may find it difficult to get around.

It may be hard for them to get to regular medical appointments.

They may experience a loss of energy and regularly feel tired or exhausted.

More Information

See the ASHM Frailty and HIV factsheet for more information.

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