People living with HIV over 50

Written by Brad

Being diagnosed at 50+ can come as a real shock. It's normal to feel negativity about your diagnosis but try to counter it by reminding yourself that HIV isn’t what it used to be. Today, there are loads of treatment options, resources and support systems that can help you live long, healthy and happy lives with HIV.1

Here are just a few things to be aware of:

  • Treatments have come a long way and are now so effective that they can keep the virus at bay1
  • HIV should have little or no impact on your sex life as, thanks to U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable), with effective treatment you cannot pass it on to your sexual partners2,3
  • Medical knowledge and patient care are constantly advancing and improving
  • There’s lots of information and advice available online to answer almost all your questions
  • Very little needs to change in your daily life
  • We are over 50! We've been through, dealt with and survived a lot more than our younger counterparts so, arguably, we are better equipped to deal with any issues that come our way
  • Our ‘inner circle’ is solid. We know who we can trust and who will support us through thick and thin
  • Travel insurance is still available for customers with HIV and these days some providers don’t even ask you to disclose your HIV status. In many instances, people who are stable on antiretroviral therapy can get travel insurance at hardly any additional cost4
  • People living with HIV can still get life insurance, and do not need to cancel an existing policy following a HIV diagnosis5

A Positive Strategy

While yes, this is a ‘change’ in your life, it does not need to actually change you… or your lifestyle. Developing a positive strategy for managing your HIV can really help. These are a few tools that I have found useful:

Educate yourself – Find reliable HIV resources and bookmark them so that you can get good answers whenever questions pop up.

Identify your ‘home’ clinic – This is where you feel the most comfortable and have built up a good relationship with the members of your healthcare team. It doesn’t always have to be the clinic closest to where you live – remember, you are free to choose the option that works best for you.

Have a ‘go-to’ person – This is someone that you can share your concerns with face-to-face, and who can answer all of your questions. It could be a Healthcare Professional (HCP), an HIV Peer Mentor or someone from the wider community. The most important thing is that it’s someone you trust who is well informed about HIV.

Engage your inner circle – Acknowledge that the people closest to you may be just as shocked and fearful as you were when you were first diagnosed. Arming them with good information and bringing them up to speed with your progress will help to dispel their concerns. Inviting a close friend with you to a clinic appointment can be a hugely valuable experience for both them and you. Keep in mind that even your best of friends may not feel comfortable asking if they can accompany you to the clinic. So, take the initiative – it's worth it.

Stay informed – HIV is a part of you and once you have accepted this, it can be managed alongside any other health and wellness issues you may have. Treat HIV with the same importance you would give to your diet, fitness and mental health as an active over-50.

Discover a number of HIV support groups for more advice about living with HIV.

  1. Treatment – HIV and AIDS. National Health Service. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/treatment/ [Accessed: August 2020].
  2. Editorial. The Lancet HIV. 2017;4:E475.
  3. NAM endorses Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) consensus statement. 2017. Available at: https://www.aidsmap.com/news/feb-2017/nam-endorses-undetectable-equals-untransmittable-uu-consensus-statement [Accessed: August 2020].
  4. Travel insurance for people with HIV. Available at: https://www.aidsmap.com/about-hiv/travel-insurance-people-hiv [Accessed: August 2020].
  5. HIV and Life Insurance. Available at: https://www.abi.org.uk/globalassets/sitecore/files/documents/
    publications/public/2016/hiv-and-insurance/hiv-and-insurance-guide.pdf
    [Accessed August 2020].
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