For the first time people living with HIV are living into old age. A lot of thought is needed to consider what services these people might need to access.

People are living with HIV into old age will increasingly need social and clinical support. A national study of ageing and HIV (50 Plus) also found that with complex health problems, fewer financial resources and greater isolation than many of their peers, many people with HIV face major challenges in ageing. In addition, older people are being diagnosed for the first time.

There is currently no specific policy or strategy for HIV and ageing in Scotland. However, broader policies on ageing do exist which will have implications for the future care of people living with HIV. This includes Reshaping Care for Older people – A Programme for Change 2011-2021. Reshaping Care aims to design a new model of health and social care in Scotland that is fair, affordable and sustainable into the future.

Whilst HIV Scotland welcomes broader approaches to meet the care needs of an ageing population, we believe that the needs of people living with HIV require careful consideration. This relates not just to health and social care but the full range of services and issues which are relevant to an ageing HIV population.

What's needed

HIV Scotland would like to see policy-makers and service providers better recognise the growing numbers of people who are living with HIV into old age. Consideration must be given not just to their health and social care needs but also their financial and emotional needs, diversity, and rights.

HIV and ageing experts, both clinicians and policy makers, need to work together to improve services to older people with HIV and to challenge age and HIV discrimination in their respective areas. HIV specific organisations and those for older people need to work together to ensure appropriate support and advice is readily available to all older people with HIV in Scotland, and to ensure that both are welcoming to older people living with HIV.

Information on health and other issues specific to older people living with HIV needs to be developed, to empower older people with the information they require as they live with HIV into older age.

Results from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles showed that people are increasingly having sex into later life, so we need to view sexual health and well-being as an issue of lifelong importance. This highlights the importance that information about HIV and HIV related services are able to engage and meet the needs of older people more generally. HIV testing services and prevention initiatives need to explicitly consider and include the needs of older adults.

Find out more

If you would like more information about our work in this area, please get in touch.