HIV, Aging, and Whole Person Care

HIV, Aging, and Whole Person Care

Physical health

HIV has different symptoms based on the stage of the infection.

The 3 stages of HIV infection are:



Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Adults who live with chronic inflammation from HIV for a long time are at greatest risk of

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Osteoporosis

If you don’t take medicine, HIV will progress to AIDS, which can be fatal.

Did you know? Women are still at risk of contracting HIV after menopause.

Other ways HIV can affect you

Stigma and discrimination can make people feel isolated and alone

Stigma = a negative attitude or belief about people living with HIV

Discrimination = when people with HIV are treated differently from those without HIV


  • Sharing your HIV status with previous and current sexual partners can be very emotional and difficult
  • HIV can cause you to lose relationships when you share your status or when loved ones die of AIDS or AIDS-related complications


  • Stigma and discrimination can lead to job loss
  • People with HIV may worry about losing their jobs
  • HIV can affect your physical health and cause changes in your ability to do work

Educating those around you and using supportive language can correct misinformation and reduce discrimination in your social life, relationships and workplace.

Mental health

An HIV diagnosis can affect your sense of well-being.

  • Dealing with a lifelong illness can cause overwhelming emotions
  • Sharing your HIV status with friends, family and others in your life can be exciting
  • Hiding your status from others can increase feelings of isolation

People with HIV have higher rates of mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders.

  • Depression it is one of the most common conditions in people with HIV.

In a 2022 survey conducted by HealthyWomen and the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NCBA):

  • Almost half of those questioned were unaware that antiretroviral therapy (ART) and early diagnosis can help people live with HIV for many years.
  • Only half of those surveyed knew that half of people diagnosed with HIV in the United States are age 50 or older.

Less than half (44%) of respondents thought they knew about HIV transmission, prevention and treatment.

If you live with HIV, you can take care of yourself by:

  • Taking your meds
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking
  • Find a support system
  • Reduce stigma by speaking up about HIV

Support groups, toll-free hotlines, mental health providers and HIV health professionals can help you get important information and advice about living with HIV.

Did you know? Undetectable equals untransmissible (U=U). This means that HIV levels are so low that they cannot be detected and the virus cannot be transmitted.

This resource was created with support from BD, Janssen & Merck.

From articles on your site
  • HIV and older women ›
  • Aging with HIV ›
  • I think I age faster because I have HIV ›
  • Ask the expert: HIV and aging ›
  • Your guide to HIV and aging ›
  • Clinically Speaking: Questions to Ask Your Doctor About HIV Treatment – HealthyWomen ›
  • Questions to ask your doctor about HIV treatment – HealthyWomen ›
  • How HIV affects menopause and menopause affects HIV – HealthyWomen ›
  • How HIV affects menopause and vice versa – HealthyWomen ›
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