About 17% of new HIV cases occur each year in those 50 and over, but this percent drops to 2.4% in those 65 years and older. Although small in number, it is of great interest to know how this group does with multiple diseases as well as its effect on mortality. This study uses the unique information from those with Medicare coverage who are 65 years or older and have a new diagnosis of HIV, together with a comparison control group. Available information on the number of diseases and conditions is available, and there is follow-up for mortality.
Older people living with a new HIV diagnosis, especially women, had a higher frequency of various diseases at the beginning of the study, when compared to the control group of the same age without HIV. The two most common chronic conditions were hypertension and diabetes. Also, the study found that death was more frequent in the group diagnosed with HIV. Although women had more diseases at the onset of HIV, over time it turned out that men had the higher death rates. A possible reason is that women received more treatment for hypertension and diabetes through Medicare in comparison to men. In addition, women may have received more complete management of their HIV that would also be beneficial. In turn, better treatment for a larger number of diseases occurring after HIV diagnosis may have resulted in less risk of death in the long run.
This article reminds us that no matter what the age of onset of HIV, better treatment of it alongside other co-occurring conditions can result in lower death rates. For those newly diagnosed, the improvement in treatments has resulted in an increase in longevity and improved quality of life.
Source: Yu, X., et al. (2021). “Assessing comorbidities and survival in HIV-infected and uninfected matched Medicare enrollees.” Aids 35(10): 1667-1675.