Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Older AIDS survivors face new challenges

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – AIDS nearly killed Lou Grosso three decades ago, but that didn't prepare him for the latest news from his doctor: he has heart disease.

Like many older HIV carriers facing problems -- including financial -- they never expected to live long enough to confront, Grosso, 57, also suffers from aching joints, memory loss and nerve pain.

Of the 14 pills he takes each day, only three are designed to treat HIV.

Dr. Brad Hare, his specialist at San Francisco General Hospital, keeps track of it all, but Grosso is still worried.

"I've often said to my doctors, 'You're so worried about the AIDS but I'm gonna drop over from a heart attack'," Grosso said. "It bothers me; I'm having a good life and don't want it to be cut short because my body thinks I'm 80."

While many have turned their attention -- and money -- to fighting the epidemic in Africa, experts here are increasingly troubled by a new kind of AIDS crisis.

Some 15 years into the era of protease inhibitors and drug cocktails, the first large group of AIDS patients to go through the aging process is facing a host of unexpected medical conditions, not to mention psychological and financial challenges they never thought they would live to see.

Grosso, who programmed some of the first personal software in the 80s, is amazed that he has survived long enough to learn how to build websites.

But he also worries that his mind isn't as sharp as it once was. He finds himself arguing with colleagues about whether topics were covered in meetings, for example.

"I'll just have no memory of it," he said.


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