Determinants of Successful Aging Among Older HIV+ Persons

David J. Moore
University of California, San Diego
Social and Behavioral Sciences

It is projected that by 2015, more than half of all HIV-infected individuals in the U.S. will be over the age of 50. Yet, little is known about HIV in the latter half of life; in particular, what factors (such as the avoidance of mental and emotional decline) are associated with successfully living with HIV into older age. Among HIV-uninfected individuals, research on successful aging has shown protective effects resulting from behavioral and biologic factors affecting response to stress and motivation, lifestyle dependent behavioral and environmental influences such as social interaction, and the influence of brain resilience in maintaining a healthy, well-functioning brain. Because the interaction of these various influences may be unique to the context of HIV as compared to those without HIV, we believe that a study into this topic is important.

Within this research project, we will determine both the number of older HIV+ persons who are successfully aging according to research established criteria as well as the factors that may help us to best predict (and ultimately prevent) mental and emotional decline among older HIV+ persons. These data may provide the necessary preliminary evidence to support future studies with larger groups of older HIV+ persons and to study HIV+ persons and their ability to age successfully with HIV over time. Specifically, we will recruit and test 100 HIV+ persons in regards to thinking skills, emotional health, and daily functioning. Additionally, we will examine a large set of variables to try to find predictors of successful aging with HIV. These data will then be compared to existing data of 100 HIV-uninfected persons who have completed similar assessments of successful aging. We hope to identify factors that could help us to prevent mental and emotional decline in the large and growing population of older HIV+ persons. Once these factors are identified, future studies can be conducted to create ways to intervene and prevent the poor outcomes that occur among some older HIV+ persons.