woman holding red AIDS ribbon

(Credit: fizkes / Getty Images)

President Biden last week renewed the U.S. government’s commitment to combating HIV / AIDS in unveiling a strategy that will focus on the growing population of older adults with the condition.

“It’s a plan to make sure that the latest advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment are available to everyone, regardless of their age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other factors,” Biden said in remarks Wednesday when he unveiled the plan on World AIDS Day. 

More than half of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are over the age of 50. 

Older adults with HIV, especially long-term survivors, face different health and psychosocial issues than their younger counterparts, requiring appropriately tailored HIV care and treatment services, according to the National HIV / AIDS Strategy

Those unique needs include screening for, assessment of and treatment of HIV-associated, non-AIDS conditions, as well as chronic diseases they are at increased risk of experiencing. Older adults also are at higher risk for social isolation and depression. 

“As this population continues to age, it will be necessary to research, develop and implement effective interventions, and adapt and appropriately fund systems of care with attention to comorbidities related to aging,” the plan reads. 

Those systems of care, the plan states, must include partnerships with services for older adults, including local Area Agencies on Aging and housing for older adults to ensure access to social services, mental health and substance use services.

“Ensuring that agencies focused on elder services can provide age-friendly, affirming care to LGBTQI+ individuals and those with HIV is imperative as the population in need of those services continues to grow,” the plan reads.

To achieve this goal, the plan calls for increasing HIV awareness among housing providers, substance use treatment and other medical service providers for older adults.