Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Experiencing and Managing HIV in Later Life: A Two-Year Study

By Dana Rosenfeld, Senior Lecturer in Sociology                                    

A multi-method, multi-disciplinary study, entitled 'HIV and Later Life’, or HALL, led by Dr Dana Rosenfeld, Senior Lecturer in Sociology has been exploring the lives of people living with HIV (PLWH) aged 50+ in the UK.

Estimates are that by 2015, half of PLWH in the West will be aged 50+. This rapidly ageing population is much more diverse than was the population of earlier years, with an increasingly high proportion of Black African and heterosexual persons. This population is further divided into those living with HIV for many years and those acquiring and/or diagnosed with HIV in later life. However, little is known about these persons' quality of life, mental health and social support needs and how their different histories and circumstances shape how they experience and manage HIV in later years.

This is a two year project funded by the Medical Research Council's Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Cross-Council Programme and the Economic and Social Research Council. The research term includes members from social science, medicine, psychology, epidemiology, and the HIV community and has been searching for connections between these older persons' personal, social and medical histories and their social support, mental health, and quality of life.

To date, the team has interviewed stakeholders (including clinicians, policy makers and HIV activists), conducted focus groups with older PLWH, and has interviewed and collected mental health survey data from 90 older PLWH. They have been recruited through hospital based HIV clinics and through HIV community organisations in the London area. Findings will inform suggested interventions designed to improve the social support, mental health, and quality of life of older people living with HIV. The project will end with a workshop targeted at older PLWH and members of the HIV community to be held in London in September 2013.

More information about the project, including biographies of the team members, a description of the methods, and preliminary findings, is available on the HALL Research Site.

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