Case study: ageing HIV-positive drug users

Linda Panton
Senior Charge Nurse, Infectious Diseases Unit, Edinburgh, NHS Lothian

 Approximately 25% of HIV-positive adults accessing care in the UK are aged over 50 years [1]. Due to the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), people living with HIV now have a life expectancy that is only slightly shorter than people who are not infected. However, these ageing patients have a higher rate of comorbidities, potentially exacerbated by HIV itself due to persistent immune activation and chronic inflammation, or from long-term exposure to antiretroviral therapy (ART) [2,3]. Smoking, alcohol and drug use in HIV patients can further reduce life expectancy by at least 15 years [4]. Many drug users who were infected in the mid-1980s, but survived due to the introduction of ART, are now in this age bracket. Ageing drug users are a vulnerable cohort with many having increasing comorbidities and poor quality of life (QoL) due to their addictions and life experiences [5]. Read more…