Aging and HIV

"Just changing a lifestyle to be able to live a healthy lifestyle, you can do it I mean I am nearly 60 and I didn't think I'd make it to 60. I intend to live to at least 80 years. Just having the right mind set and the attitude, eating health and the right lifestyle, taking your medication, I do not skip on medication at all." Cindy Pivacic

The number of older people living with HIV is growing because people can now take ARVs and stay healthy into old age. Adhering to ARVs and reaching viral suppression, and taking general care of yourself means that you can live healthily into old age with HIV. People who eat well, exercise, and remain socially and mentally active in life often find aging easier.

HIV and the aging process Illness is a natural part of aging. As people get older, the strength of the immune system - the body's defence force that protects the body against diseases - becomes weaker. This makes it easy to have long lasting health problems and illnesses that are not caused by infection, known as non-communicable diseases. Non-communicable diseases can include hypertension (high-blood pressure), diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung problems and cancer.

Other problems associated with getting older include hearing loss, receding gums, and the menopause for women. Some people also face greater stress and depression as they get older and start to worry more about their health, their families and their future. If you are an older person living with HIV, taking ARVs every day as prescribed by your healthcare worker can keep your viral load suppressed and your immune system strong, and you with be healthier, but you may still have the same health problems as any older person. It is important to visit your healthcare worker often to talk about any new symptoms you may be having and to get checked for new illnesses. If you are taking ARVs and need to take medication for other age-related illnesses, your healthcare worker will make sure that it is safe for you to take your ARVs and the any other treatments at the same time.


Zenzele is an ARV adherence program that promotes adherence to ARV treatment and encourages healthy living on ARVS as part of the HIV journey. The campaign utilizes peer support and social media platforms to promote ARV adherence and ultimately viral load suppression.

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