Geriatric syndromes: new frontiers in HIV and sarcopenia


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Abstract

HIV infection, in many circumstances, can now be managed as a chronic disease due to the marked increase in life expectancy since the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). As the patients who first had access to combination ART age into their 50s and 60s, the effects of chronic HIV infection on health have become an important research focus in HIV infection. People living with HIV appear to exhibit an earlier occurrence of some aging-related conditions compared to people without HIV, in part due to higher rates of comorbidities, high-risk behaviors (e.g. smoking, substance use), chronic immune activation, inflammation, and ART-specific factors. Some studies have even suggested an earlier-than-expected appearance of the ‘geriatric syndromes,’ which are complex medical syndromes of older adults that are associated with morbidity and mortality. The geriatric syndromes include a wide variety of disease processes ranging from incontinence and dementia to impairments in physical function. This review will focus on one geriatric syndrome, sarcopenia, in older HIV-infected populations, and its relation to other aging syndromes, including frailty and falls. The contribution of HIV itself, ART exposure, and specific comorbidities, and the importance of early recognition and prevention of these aging syndromes will be highlighted.

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