MAINTENANCE. Faced with AIDS, “we are fighting against the tide to say that everything is not settled”

Interview with Corinne Le Huitouze, head of the Aging with HIV program at Sidaction.

Do we age faster with HIV?

People aging with HIV are greatly affected by comorbidities, chronic illnesses in addition to HIV. They present more cardiovascular risks and neurological disorders, and are more affected by cancer and kidney failure.

These comorbidities are more numerous and appear earlier, so they cause premature aging. In 2010, 30% of people living with HIV had at least one comorbidity. All the studies show that in 2030 84% will be carriers of another pathology. These concerns are often counterbalanced by frequent medical follow-up.

The leading cause of death in people with HIV is cancer. There have been so many medical advances that we have to fight against the tide to say that everything is not settled. Especially at the social level.

HIV status, “an announcement of near death” in the 1980s and 1990s

How to explain the precariousness of elderly people living with HIV?

In the 1980s and 1990s, being HIV positive was a sign of near death. People did not project themselves in life, did not seek a career or long studies.

They also had sick periods, with hospitalizations. Jagged paths, some people retired themselves from work because it is often not easy to talk about it at work. Finally, the people who survived did not project themselves, many live with the disabled adult allowance (AAH), low incomes, then switch to a minimum old-age pension, synonymous with precariousness.

Many have also seen those around them disappear. Some are isolated because of discrimination and rejection. Others have lost their spouse or no longer speak to their family, often because of homophobia or even serophobia. Living alone is more complicated mentally but also economically. Aid often exists at the municipal level, but in all cases it remains very little.

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Half of contaminations concern migrants

Do you fear a worsening of the situation in the coming years?

Yes. More than half of contaminations in France today concern migrants who generally have more social concerns. They are underrepresented among the oldest.

The precariousness will persist all the more as their situation has greatly deteriorated, with very difficult and precarious migratory routes from sub-Saharan Africa. We must imagine new housing and accommodation systems, and fight against isolation and discrimination.