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Community Care important for ageing people with HIV

Photo: Community Care important for ageing people with HIV
SPECIALIST community care teams will continue to play an important role for people living with HIV, particularly with clients who are ageing and were diagnosed before new treatments were introduced in 1996, new research shows.

Researchers found many people with HIV have experienced, and continue to experience, stigma and discrimination when seeking services to support them at home.

RDNS’ (Royal District Nursing Service) Melbourne-based HIV team, which supports 220 clients with an average age of 55, has published the findings in the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. The work will inform training programs conducted by the team for RSL Care + RDNS employees and external organisations.

The survey completed by 86 clients, of whom 57.3 per cent were aged 41-60 and 25 per cent were over 61, found the areas of greatest concern for the future were the availability of ongoing support and the capacity to live independently.
Respondents diagnosed before 1996 were more likely to be “very concerned” about being forced to leave their home (45.9 per cent) or having to go into residential aged care (40.5 per cent).

“My youth is gone. I worry about companionship and being with people and services who are non-judgmental as I age,” one man diagnosed in the 1980s said.

“Ageing with HIV presents a range of biomedical complexities that are only now being revealed and better understood,” research leader and HIV team leader Dr Liz Crock found.

Nurses caring for people with HIV in the community needed ongoing education to manage complex issues related to mental health and wellbeing, access to housing, health promotion and mental health, drug and alcohol issues.

As people living with HIV are now ageing, and a higher percentage are experience multiple co-morbidities at an earlier age than non HIV people,  research suggests there will be an increase in the number of people seeking community and aged care support.

Respondents with a longer time since diagnosis were more susceptible to greater anxiety regarding the future and needed extra psychological and social support. Specialist HIV teams remained particularly important for this group to provide advocacy and support in their journey and to the people who support them.

“The mental health support needs of this group emerged as an important priority, along with the provision of chronic pain management, and palliative care tailored to an ageing cohort with diverse socio-cultural characteristics,” Dr Crock found.


“The study underlined the importance of holistic, expert community nursing services, encompassing psycho-social support, health promotion, clinical care and end of life support.

“Such services can play an important role in protecting and improving the quality of life of long term HIV survivors, and in engaging and retaining people belonging to marginalized groups in HIV clinical care and support.”

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year to raise awareness across the world and in the community about the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. It is a day for people to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.

About Us
RSL Care + RDNS is a not-for-profit provider supporting health and wellness for more than 100,000 community care clients, more than 2,200 residential aged care residents and more than 2,200 retirement village residents in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Our RDNS HIV program was established in 1985 and is funded by the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services to support HIV positive clients and their significant others in an environment which acknowledges past experiences of stigma, discrimination and reluctance to engage with services.

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