People with HIV are living longer than ever before, but as a result they must contend with other chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary hypertension, anemias and other blood-related disorders, sleep disorders and certain cancers. In recognition of the long-term survivors of the epidemic and to raise awareness of their needs, HIV Long-Term Survivors Day is held annually on June 5.

According to the NIH, there are approximately 1.1 million people aged 13 years or older in the United States living with HIV.


“With the benefit of ART, many people who are infected with HIV will live into their golden years,” Sean Altekruse, DVM, PhD, MPH, from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, told Infectious Disease News.“Today, almost half of people living with HIV in the United States are 50 years of age and older. With effective ART, these people are more likely to develop chronic diseases, or comorbidities, than they are to develop AIDS-related diseases.”

Previously, the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, or MACS, and the Women’s Interagency HIV Study, or WIHS, were conducted as separate, nationwide studies. But this year, MACS and WIHS were combined to create a multi-institutional, collaborative study funded by NIH.

“The MACS/WIHS-CCS project aims to identify biomarkers and risk factors that are associated with increased risk for chronic disorders among people living with HIV,” said Altekruse, who is a program officer for the MACS/WIHS-CCS. “Findings from the project will be used to develop even more effective interventions and treatments for HIV and related comorbidities.”

The study will also focus on the impact age, sex, race/ethnicity and HIV status have on chronic diseases.

“A primary goal of the study is to understand and thus promote processes that enable healthy aging among people living with HIV,” Altekruse said.

In honor of HIV Long-Term Survivors Day, Infectious Disease News compiled recent stories detailing the challenges facing aging people living with HIV.

Menopause worsens fatigue, muscle aches in women with HIV

Researchers at Columbia University found evidence that fatigue and muscle aches — two of the most common symptoms among patients with HIV — are exacerbated by menopause. Read more.

Aging HIV population face complicated rheumatologic care

As the national population of patients who are HIV-positive continues to age, rheumatologists will be increasingly called on to manage routine care for crystal disease, osteoarthritis, soft tissue rheumatism and other conditions, according to Leonard Calabrese, DO, of the Cleveland Clinic. Read more.


Sean Altekruse, DVM, PhD, MPH

Sean Altekruse