Aging and HIV
By the end 2015 more than half of all people living with HIV in the United States will be older than 50 years. A good number of people will simply live longer with HIV, and that is a good thing. Many, however, will contract HIV when they are older than 50 years, and their health needs will be different from someone who tested positive at a younger age. Moreover, research shows' increasingly that diseases that usually attack the HIV-negative people in their 60 and 70 years, occur in people with HIV in their 40 and 50 years. These concerns have led the issue of aging with HIV to center stage.
Now one of the biggest unanswered questions is why this is occurring. There is no doubt that many age-related diseases and conditions are appearing at higher rates and at younger ages in people with HIV compared to HIV-negative patients; heart attacks, bone fractures, kidney disease or certain cancers and rates of these conditions in HIV-positive people are alarming. What was not clear, however, is how HIV contributes to these conditions, as is explained by other factors (such as smoking, drugs against HIV / AIDS and co-infection with other viruses) and what to do towards them.
Researchers are working hard to address these issues, but in the meantime, this class is intended to explain:
- How aging works in a general sense?
- What we know about HIV / AIDS and the aging process?
- What steps can be taken to reduce the risk of diseases related to aging, and
- What types of experimental treatments are on the horizon?
The good news is that most HIV-positive people can do much to slow down the aging process and protect against the onset of diseases related to age. Before we get to that, however, it is important to understand how aging works first.
What is aging, and why do we become sick as we age?
When we think of someone as "old", we tend to think that the person, having lived a number of years 70, 80, 100 is old.
The National Institute of Aging, however, the focus is not on how long someone has been living, but on the inevitable decline in physical fitness and health, which occurs when a person reaches a later stage of life. But the aging researchers did not face the small changes that come with age, gray hair and wrinkled skin.
Instead, they are concerned about the changes that cause disability and disease. This is where efforts are centralized in order to understand what is potentially slow or reverse aging.
At the same time, the researchers looked at the root cause of aging, but they have realized that a variety of factors, including our genes, our environment and infection with viruses and bacteria contribute to the aging phenomenon overlapping.
Some people won the genetic lottery. They inherit the genes that enable them to remain healthy and well vitalized in their 80 years 90 years while others have inherited other genes are placed at greater risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular diseases, when arriving at 40 years .
Some are capable of minimizing environmental and behavioral factors known to slow down the aging process. Eating well, exercising and keeping socially and intellectually involved in life. On the other hand, others can eat healthy diet, avoiding tobacco smoke consumption, little exercise or drive socially isolated lives. The effects of these environmental and behavioral factors on human health are profound.
Likewise, some people are able to prevent the occurrence of infection with most viruses and bacteria throughout its life, or who have immune system able to keep under control the infections. Others may have immune system capable of coping with harmful infections such as hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Human papillomavirus (HPV). Cytomegalovirus (CMV) -and, yes, HIV, all of which can significantly increase the risk of health problems later in life.
These genetic, environmental and biological factors may overlap and lead us to begin the aging process, called "senility" and senescence puts it all down to the cellular level. Yes, the cells also age!
The cells in the body depend on a DNA cut with a scissors, called telomeres, to reproduce. When we are young, the cells of our bodies also tend to be young, to the extent that they appear to be and do the same with the first generation of cells that start when we were first in the womb. As we age, however, the cells in our body are many hundreds or thousands of generations removed from the original cells, and code sections at the end of DNA, the telomeres get shorter. If the telomeres are in good shape as when they are young, each new generation of cells and performs its functions. When the telomeres are shorter, however, each new generation of cellular functions reproduces worse, to the point where the cells sometimes can not reproduce more.
What does this have to do with aging? Enough! The defective cells lead to real problems. If our muscles and bone cells can not make new cells that work well, because the telomeres become too short - it makes it more likely that our muscles and bones are weak. Muscles and weak bones mean a greater risk of falls and a greater risk that we will break a big bone. Defects in brain cells can lead to poorer coordination and memory problems. Defects in immune cells are not able to keep under control infections and cancers.
It is this last category of senescence, call immunosenescence age-related, which is especially relevant for people living with HIV. More about owning presents immunosenescence will be explained later, but first it is important to understand some of the ways that HIV can affect the aging process.
And that will be addressed in the next chapter.
Translated by Claudio Souza the originals:
Aging and HIVand What is aging, and why do we Become the ill we get older? With the invaluable review Mara Macedo