Aging with AIDS
New challenge for patients
Aging with AIDS ... For a generation contaminated in the 1980s and 90s, it was not planned. Today, coming of age and penniless, many of them increasing health problems.
AIDS nearly killed Lou Grosso there 30 years. But this American is not prepared to last diagnosis from his doctor: he suffers from heart problems. At 57, Lou also has joint pain and memory loss. However, the 14 capsules per day he swallows, only three target HIV positive.
"I always tell my doctors: you care for HIV but I'll die of a heart attack," says he told AFP. "It bothers me, I have a nice life, I do not want to spend my body because I think 80 years," he says.
While the attention - and money - has shifted in recent years about the ravages of the epidemic in Africa, experts are concerned about this new crisis of HIV.
For fifteen years that anti-retroviral triple therapy emerged, a first generation of people carry the disease are surviving and aging. Their health complications are unusual, as well as long-term psychological effects of illness and financial problems they did not expect to have time to meet.
Lou Grosso, who programmed the first consumer software in the 80s, can not get to have lived long enough to learn to design websites. But he worries that his mind is less bright, with a loss of immediate memory.
A recent study showed that 52% of Americans with HIV cognitive impairment, against 10% among HIV negative.
Patients with HIV aged 55 could also three times more likely to suffer from a chronic disease such as osteoporosis, diabetes or cancer, than non-infected age 70, according to a study of American Academy of HIV Medicine.
In the early days of the epidemic, patients die very young in the service of Dr. Brad Hare at San Francisco General Hospital, which treats Lou Grosso. Today, more than a quarter of infected patients over 50 years, according to the Center for Control and Prevention (CDC) and the average age of the 3,000 patients followed by the service of Dr. Hare is 47 years .
"Patients say it exhausts them: we fight against HIV for 30 years, we managed to control it and a new cascade of medical problems happen," said the doctor.
Scientists are only beginning to address the source of these new medical problems to determine if they are related to the disease itself, medication, or if they are natural signals that age.
But the struggle of those who are aging with HIV do not stop at purely medical complications. The doctors also worry for patients as Vicky Davidson, undermined by a long winter of loneliness, failed at 64 years, abandon his anti-HIV treatment.
Contaminated in 1986 during a blood transfusion, she underwent two surgeries on his hip at age 50 and suffers from chronic fatigue. But what's most disheartening is his social isolation.
"I do not want people think I'm a crybaby, so I do as if it was not much, but in my moments of solitude, I wish I had a companion," she says.
The financial issue is also crucial for those who did not expect to live that old. Thus Homer Hobi, 65, told AFP it had recently taken a job in an estate agency. In the 90s, he had left his house, his company and much of his savings to his ex-wife, despite the protests of the attorney for his divorce.
"Not one doctor I spoke to at the time envisaged only I'm still alive 10 years later ...", he justifies.