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The British Medical Journal, referring to a report by the UK’s Terrence Higgins Trust, Uncharted Territory, described the report findings as a “Time Bomb”. The report states that “the social care, healthcare and welfare systems aren’t ready for this new and fast-growing ageing generation”. Study respondents reported they would have no one to help them when they needed support for daily tasks. Over 80% are concerned about accessing adequate social care in the future.
Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Advances in HIV treatment mean that people with HIV are living longer and we are now seeing the first generation of people growing old living with HIV. This is good news – but it also means we’re entering uncharted territory. Many of these individuals were diagnosed when HIV was considered fatal and never expected to live beyond a couple of years – as a result, they’re less likely to have savings or pensions, and many have become socially isolated…. diagnosed with the highly stigmatised condition [HIV/AIDS].”
Green viewed the report statistics as a “wake-up call to governments”. He commented that “People aged 50 and over are now the fastest growing group of people living with HIV…. The issues they face can no longer be ignored, as the challenges of poverty, loneliness and social care grow more acute.” He observed that “…our welfare, health and social care systems are simply not ready for this and we could see a time bomb in the years to come. We must ensure our GPs, our care homes and our communities are ready to support people with HIV to live well in later life, while facing the uncertainty of what lies ahead.”
Report participants provided comments like “Most stigma I’ve experienced around my HIV has been from medical professionals who should know better – sometimes it’s like going back to the 80s.”
“As people grow older with HIV, including me, they’re going to have other medical needs, and we haven’t had to deal with that before. I don’t think the health and social care systems really are prepared for this”.
The full report and quoted article can be found and downloaded from http://www.tht.org.uk/our-charity/Media-centre/Press-Releases/2017/January/Social-care-%E2%80%98timebomb%E2%80%99-facing-ageing-HIV-positive-population
Stephen Karpiak PhD
Sr. Director of Research at ACRIA
NYU College of Nursing and the Einstein-Rockefeller-Hunter CFAR