“Here’s the bottom line on ‘accelerated aging’ among people with HIV: It’s probably not as bad as you think.
Plenty of scary headlines have made their way across the Internet in recent years, decrying the body-decaying effects of getting older and portraying the sense that HIV (or HIV meds) causes people to suffer these problems at far higher rates far earlier in their lives. And by ‘far earlier,’ some experts felt we were talking as many as 20 years earlier, according to some of the first research that explored the issue.
But the problem that often occurs with early research is that it’s … well, a bit premature in its findings. ‘There certainly is more of a trend for HIV-positive people to be a bit younger’ when they develop certain health problems, says Amy Justice, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine and public health at the Yale School of Medicine. ‘But when I say a bit younger, we’re talking about somewhere between one and six years — we’re not talking about 20 or 30 years.’
Justice should know: She is one of the world’s leading researchers on aging and HIV. As the lead investigator of the massive Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS), it’s her job to delve into one of the largest troves of information in existence and help us all better understand the ways in which HIV intersects with other health problems that emerge as we get older.
What she and her team have found is rewriting much of we thought we knew about aging and HIV. It’s also helping us figure out some concrete steps we can take to prevent or treat health problems we associate with ‘premature aging…’ ”