Consider the needs of elderly living with HIV

Talent Gore

HEALTH officials have implored hospitals and clinics to include the needs of elderly people living with HIV in their non-communicable disease (NCD) screening and treatments.

Addressing a media science café organised by the Health Communicators Forum in Harare yesterday, Newlands Clinic HIV researcher and clinician, Dr Cleopas Chimbetete, urged practitioners to offer a holistic approach to elderly patients.

He said HIV was a risk factor for a number of other conditions and, as a result, HIV patients in old age were more likely to be affected by other conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, mental health issues and cancers.

“There is a realisation that there is an emerging challenge of more and more elderly patients living with HIV in their old age.

“We need to highlight HIV prevention in elderly patients so those of us who are involved with HIV prevention campaigns such as preps, circumcision and whatever form of prevention campaigns include the elderly as well, realising that they remain at risk of infections.

“When we see elderly patients coming to our hospital facilities for whatever medical reasons, let us offer HIV testing because we have noticed a delay in HIV diagnosis in the elderly because some of the symptoms in this age group mimic old age.

“These are often dismissed as part of the aging process, but we don’t want late diagnosis of HIV in this generation of people,” said Dr Chimbetete.

He said they should not just look at viral load, without BP machines, and glucometers to test blood sugar.

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