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David E Vance
Med Sci Monit 2007; 13(10): SC1-3
In the United States, more than 100,000 adults 50 years old and over are diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The number of older adults living with HIV is increasing dramatically due primarily to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) which is transforming this disease into a chronic condition for many who are responding well to treatment. This population is also growing due to later-life infections and reflects the overall aging of the larger population in general. Yet, despite the novelty of such developing demographic trends, the negative consequences of aging with HIV are largely unknown. Therefore, it is necessary to synthesize the gerontological and HIV/AIDS literatures to hypothesize possible areas that may be of concern to people as they age with this disease. One area of particular concern focuses on tell-tale signs of cognitive problems and the development of dementia. Separately, older adults and adults with HIV are more susceptible of experiencing cognitive declines and dementia. Thus, as people age with HIV, they may be particularly susceptible of such cognitive problems and therefore detecting such problems in the early stages may be vital in preventing further problems. Based on the literature, adults infected with HIV experience impairments in olfaction and psychomotor ability. Similar symptoms are exhibited in older adults with Parkinson’s disease and other dementias. Thus, for older adults with HIV, declines in both olfaction and psychomotor skills may be early signs of a developing neurodegenerative disorder. Implications for those aging with HIV are posited.