Co-authored by Scott Proestel, M.D., Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIHOn September 18, 2011, we mark the fourth observance of National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. These long term follow-up studies of HIV infected women (WIHS) and men (MACS) have defined some of the important differences in HIV risk, pathogenesis and treatment response between the sexes. The International Epidemiologic Database to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) provides domestic and international information about the epidemic including pathogenesis differences between HIV infected adults who are growing older and newly infected older individuals. In addition, studies conducted by the Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR), and the International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials (INSIGHT) are pursuing HIV and aging-related scientific questions.
The NIH Office of AIDS Research, which has responsibility for overall planning and coordination of NIH AIDS research, has made AIDS and aging research a priority in the annual Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research, and has supported a number of initiatives to catalyze this area of science. In close collaboration with a number of NIH Institutes with research portfolios in HIV/AIDS, OAR has been exploring new ways to sponsor further research on HIV and aging. OAR has established a Working Group on HIV and Aging comprised of experts in both HIV/AIDS and geriatrics, as well as representatives from the HIV affected community to identify new scientific opportunities and priorities in this field of research.
While the NIH continues to expand research on HIV and aging, multiple other Federal agencies, foundations, and advocacy groups are also making critical contributions in this important area, as well as directly supporting the needs of older individuals living with HIV. Only by addressing these needs can we truly achieve the vision of the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy:
The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.