John Klenert, a resident of DC signed up for a National Institute of Health study on AIDS at John Hopkins University in 1984. Three years earlier, the Center for Disease Control had reported the earliest cases of what later became popularly known as AIDS. However, some of Klenert’s friends have passed away from AIDS long before the research had begun. HIV life expectancy is indeed short. But for some reason, Klenert has survived longer despite the virus.
HIV Life Expectancy
According to the CDC, about 10.8% of around 50,000 new HIV cases each year in the United States are people 50 years old and above. In 2009, 16.7% diagnoses were within this demographic as well. Based on these statistics, federal health officials predict that by 2015, half of people with HIV in the United States will be 50 years old and above.
This goes to show that increased access to treatment in most developed countries particularly the Unites States has allowed people to live longer despite the virus. In the mid 1990s, the arrival of anti retroviral drugs has helped more people live longer.
Based on the research conducted by researchers from John Hopkins and CDC, older people with HIV are more likely to suffer higher rates of certain diseases that are not related to AIDS. These chronic diseases developed due to other causes not associated to the HIV.
Among these chronic illnesses include:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Heart Disease
John Klenert who is now 63 had a brain tumor operation to repair an aneurism for the last 30 years. His cardiologist and neurologist both agree that this brain tumor has nothing to do with his HIV status. This case is common to a lot of people who had AIDS.
Aside from this, people with HIV also suffer the stigma associated to the disease. In most cases, this stigma is detrimental to a person’s health because it dissuades people from discussing their sexual health with doctors and other physicians.
The main problem, according to those who advocate on behalf of older people with HIV, is the lack of visibility. The Graying of Aids is one of the projects that aim to create a profile of older people who have been diagnosed with the virus.
What is needed, according to the advocates, is a frank discussion about sexuality. The general lack of information about HIV is the main killer of the disease and not the virus itself. In fact, despite the popularity of the name, most people are still in denial of the existence of the disease. Information remains to be the biggest weapon against it.
To know more about this topic, you can read The Graying of Aids: Living Longer with HIV by Michael K. Lavers written for Washington Blade.
HIV life expectancy is indeed short. However, this only means people who have the disease are more likely to die due to infections that could have been cured if not for the presence of the virus. However, life expectancy in general is unpredictable. We do not have any cure for death or old age, for that matter.
This is why information and education is necessary to make the right choices. People who have contracted the virus are shunned from society, which makes the spreading of the disease more difficult to handle. It is time you protect yourself by means of education and proper understanding of the disease.
How do we do this? Share your comments and views below.