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Aging Ment Health. 2005 May;9(3):246-54.

The aging HIV/AIDS population: fragile social networks.

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AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA), 230 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018, USA.


Social support becomes an increasingly critical resource for people as they age. In New York City, 25% of all people living with HIV/AIDS are over age 50, and 64% are over age 40. This study sample (n=160) reflects current HIV/AIDS epidemiology, with 34% females and 89% people of color. This study provides a detailed profile of this growing, aging cohort and their social networks. Our study finds this growing group of aging adults is isolated from informal networks due to the stigma of HIV/AIDS and ageism. Typically, partners and family members are key sources of informal support, but only 1/3 of respondents had a partner and 71% lived alone. This group relies heavily on friends, many of whom are also HIV-positive. Participants were in primary care and many (86%) utilized Medicaid. The fragile networks of these older adults will be challenged by age-related comorbidities. Without traditional caregivers, these aging adults with HIV/AIDS will have an immense impact on healthcare delivery and community-based programs.

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