Loneliness affects the risk of disease and death in older people with HIV. It is important to identify factors associated with loneliness. The present study addressed this issue in adults 50 years old and over living with HIV, 50 years and older, using 146 participants in a clinic in Atlanta, Georgia. 60% were men and 85% were African American.  

As many as 40% were found to have the presence of loneliness, using a series of standardized test questions such as “I feel detached from other people”. In addition, all participants provided information on social network size, disease burden, depressive symptoms, stigma, and other factors. In the past year, 12% indicated they had issues such as homelessness or problems with housing. Homelessness, lack of social support, and disease burden (e.g. multimorbidity) were related to loneliness. But the key factors associated with loneliness were stigma and depressive symptoms. Those two factors were responsible for most (41%) of the risk for their loneliness.

This information- like other studies- shows that by addressing stigma and depression, loneliness could be significantly reduced. Better management of mental health, especially depression, could reduce these high levels of loneliness. Depression rates are 3-5 times higher in the older adult with HIV. Referral to effective mental health professions is needed.  In addition, increased social connections can make a difference. Such efforts can lead to both better quality of life and reduced risk for negative health outcomes in older adults aging with HIV.

 Moka Yoo-Jeong et al., (2019): Correlates of loneliness in older persons living with HIV, AIDS Care, DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2019.1659919