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“HIV Is Not Going to Kill Me, Old Age Is!”: The Intersection of Aging and HIV for Older HIV-Infected Adults in Rural Communities

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/aeap.2017.29.1.62

Older adults with HIV/AIDS living in rural areas face unique challenges to accessing HIV care and medications, and suffer greater mortality than non-rural HIV-infected individuals. This qualitative study examined the intersection of aging and HIV to identify factors that affect overall health, engagement in care, and medication adherence among this understudied population. Qualitative interviews were conducted by phone with 29 HIV-positive adults over the age of 50 living in U.S. rural counties and analyzed using thematic content analysis. Individuals reported complex medical needs in addition to their HIV and noted difficulty discerning whether symptoms were associated with HIV or aging. Although reported medication adherence rates were high, participants also cited several barriers to maintaining adherence. Given the increase in rural individuals living with HIV, interventions are needed to address the complex intersection of aging and HIV, especially for those in rural environments.