Of the 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, around a quarter are over the age of 50. Data from the Terrence Higgins Trust has revealed that two-thirds of these are receiving treatment for other long-term health conditions too, that’s twice the rate of those without HIV.
The charity and the Royal College of Nursing have spoken out to say this ‘silent generation’ of older people with HIV need better coordinated care in order to stay well. The concerns will be raised this week at the Royal College of Nursing conference.
Thanks to advancements in the treatment of HIV, nurses are seeing more people with the condition reaching out for help with age-related ailments.
The public health forum chairman for RCN, Jason Warriner, said:
“For the first time, we have a generation of older people living with HIV and having to cope with the ageing process. They have respiratory problems, diabetes and heart disease. That is proving challenging. You have to be careful about drug interactions and other complications.
“Nurses need more training and we need to ensure patients are not getting passed around from health professional to health professional. Their care needs to be better coordinated.”
As well as their care needs, attitudes and stigma need to be addressed. Dr Mark Lawton, a sexual health consultant at the Royal Liverpool Hospital commented about data that suggested some employees working in care homes had a negative attitude towards those with HIV and that there was an ‘overwhelming lack of knowledge and understanding’.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health said it is unacceptable that those with HIV should face any form of stigma or discrimination. They also said that older people living with the condition should have access to any additional health and social care services they need so they can continue living an independent and fulfilled life.