HIV across the lifespan

John McLuskey
Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham

Hello and welcome to the final issue for 2017. I am pleased to be presenting this issue to you as we offer a range of articles that represent people at different points of their lifespan and their experiences of living with HIV or caring for people with HIV. Many thanks to all of the authors for their time, effort and for producing such interesting and contemporary examples from their clinical and academic roles. 2016 was an important year for HIV in the UK and this appears to be continuing through 2017. There was a reduction of over 1000 new diagnoses of HIV reported between 2015 and 2016 across all diagnoses [1]. Whilst the majority of people living with HIV in the UK are between the ages of 25 and 64 years, those at either end of the age spectrum should be considered. There is a growing population of people reaching old age and this brings with it its own challenges [2]. For health professionals, an understanding of the ageing processes is required so that decisions can be made regarding the impact of HIV on ageing. This is of personal interest to me, as my career in HIV care developed initially from being a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the care of older people and admitting an older woman with HIV at a time when no one within the multidisciplinary team knew the difference between the symptoms of ageing and the symptoms of HIV. At that time, little was understood about the interaction of the virus with ageing systems of the body or its impact on long-term conditions that are commonly seen in older adults. For those at the other end of the age continuum, the focus of care has been on the prevention of children being born with HIV and supporting women to become mothers. By the end of December 2016, there had been only 12 diagnoses in children within that year, of these three were born in the UK and nine were born elsewhere [1]. This demonstrates the efforts of multidisciplinary approaches to care for women and children and improved treatments to ensure an undetectable viral load is maintained during antenatal, perinatal and postnatal periods [3,4]. Care of children already living with HIV supports them to become independent, knowledgeable and able to navigate their interactions with health services and their futures. Read more…