HIV Aging, More Illnesses, Many Pills

Long-term survival with HIV is associated with more medical problems. As a result, this may require taking more medications. This report addresses the potential problems that this may cause. The study includes 30 people over 65 years old living with HIV and attending a university hospital for care. The median age is 71 years with 73% being men. 70% have blood fat problems, 67% with hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure) 43% with diabetes, and 67% have mental health issues. The duration of their HIV is a median of 17 years. Information from the records is collected on number of diseases, medications taken, possible adverse effects between the medications, and the necessity of changing or discontinuing certain medications because they are unnecessary.

70% of the patients took more than 5 medications and 30% were taking more than 10 medications. About 67% were found to be taking their medications regularly. Special calculations were made to determine if there was a possible adverse relationship between some of the medications being taken. A definite relationship was found between certain medical problems and the number of medications, and there was the need to stop certain prescriptions. About 70% were judged as having a potential adverse relationship between the medications they were taking.

This report should alert older patients living with HIV and their doctors of the need for evaluation of current medications and possible adjustment. It is possible that a drug you are taking can affect another drug by making it stronger or weaker. This is especially a concern for an effect on the correct level of antiretroviral medications. Also, sometimes over the counter non-prescription drugs can have adverse effects. It is recommended that you regularly put all your medications in a bag and take them to a scheduled appointment for evaluation. Older patients living with HIV should be aware of risks from their medications and ask their health team to investigate the possibility of changing, reducing, or stopping certain medications.

If you would like more information about your medications and perhaps the need to stop or change certain of them, you can go to: “Health Management” near the top of the first page and then open “Pill Burden”.


Source: Vinuesa-Hernando, J. M., et al. (2021). “Potentially inappropriate prescriptions and therapeutic complexity in older HIV patients with comorbidities.” Int J Clin Pharm.