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Clinical implications of aging with HIV infection: perspectives and the future medical care agenda

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Abstract

The increasing number of aging HIV-infected (HIV+) persons comprises a unique population at risk for illnesses and syndromes traditionally associated with the elderly. As a result, similar to the current need for primary care providers to manage chronic noninfectious comorbidities among aging persons with well controlled HIV infection, HIV clinical care will need to routinely involve geriatric medicine in a new HIV-geriatric discipline. The objective of this article is to provide a conceptual framework in which HIV and geriatric management considerations for healthcare professionals caring for HIV+ persons are integrated. The provision of contemporary HIV clinical care extends well beyond the achievement of HIV virologic suppression and antiretroviral therapy management and includes a need for careful characterization of geriatric syndromes based upon functional capacity and extent of disability. Screening for geriatric syndromes is both a multidisciplinary and multidimensional process, designed to evaluate an older person's functional ability, physical health, cognition, overall mental health, and socio-environmental circumstances. Although routine incorporation of geriatric assessment into clinical trials involving HIV+ persons is feasible, a current challenge is the availability of a consensus clinical definition of frailty or vulnerability. To maximize the efficiency, value, and convenience of outpatient care visits for older HIV+ persons, these visits should include encounters with multiple providers, including primary care clinicians, social workers, and geriatricians. Challenges may exist in the routine provision of these assessments to older HIV+ persons, but clearly such cross-disciplinary collaboration will not only markedly enhance the care of aging HIV+ persons but may also constitute a model of successful healthcare management that can be applied to all aging persons with changing healthcare needs.

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