"As I get older will the problems get worse?" Fears and concerns of gay and bisexual men over 50 aging with HIV in the UK

Published: August 30, 2010

"As I get older will the problems get worse?" Fears and concerns of gay and bisexual men over 50 aging with HIV in the UK
L. Power1, G. Brough1,2, C. Hansen3

1Terrence Higgins Trust, Policy & Public Affairs, London, United Kingdom, 2Mortimer Market Centre, Bloomsbury Clinic, London, United Kingdom, 3EMBARC, London, United Kingdom

Issues: With current antiretrovirals, increasing numbers of PWHIV are living longer without having planned for a future. Numbers of PWHIV over 50 in the UK are set to double by 2014. Services need to respond.
Description: THT´s 50Plus research project with Age UK covers a range of instruments including a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews with PWHIV over 50. PWHIV are involved at every level of the research. The MSM data was collected via online and paper surveys distributed to PWHIV across the UK in 2009. 325 MSM over 50 aged between 50 and 78 (mean: 56.1), diagnosed between < 1 and 28 years ago (mean: 14.5) responded. 63% described their health as good/very good and 9.1% as bad/very bad. 73.8% had a CD4 count >351 and 4.9% were < 200. Major concerns expressed for the future were financial difficulties (63.9% very or most important); inability to care for self (62.8%); inability to access proper healthcare (62.4%) and mental health issues (61.4%). Of less concern were loneliness (32.3%) and difficulty finding a partner (30.3%). In open ended responses, men also expressed fear of the unknown in ageing with HIV/HAART; fear of elder services that may stigmatise HIV or homosexuality; and concern about future HIV services.
Lessons learned: Elder and HIV organisations need to realign current services and policy priorities to respond to these needs around money, healthcare and self-care and to reduce fears of stigma and manage uncertainty. There is a need for a learning exchange in addition to service realignments.
Next steps: Data on all PWHIV over 50 responding will be further analysed and compared with a similar cohort in ACRIA´s US study. Learning will be shared with PWHIV, funders and other services and policymakers.

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