‘I mean I have nothing, the money has gone. That’s all gone. But I mean we’d spend our holidays….having fun thinking we were going to just spend up until we died.’
The Terrence Higgins Trust has today launched a new report – Uncharted Territory – which looks at the first generation of people to grow older with HIV in the UK. The full report and executive summary can be accessed here.
Produced with peer researchers – individuals aged 50 and over living with HIV in the UK – the report shines a light on the needs and experiences of people living with HIV aged 50+. There is no single experience for older people living with HIV and the report makes clear that there is a diversity of needs and experience, from those individuals who need very little support through to those who have more complex needs.
‘I think I’ve just reached a point in my life now where I’m settled in myself, what will be will be … you expect to get ill when you get old so that doesn’t really bother me. You stop caring what people think I suppose.’
The fact that the effectiveness of modern treatment means people living with HIV can expect to live a full life is to be celebrated, however this success brings with it a set of new challenges:
- 58% of people living with HIV aged 50+ were defined as living on or below the poverty line – double the levels of poverty seen in the general population.
- Over a third of individuals were solely reliant on welfare benefits to live.
- 84% of respondents were concerned about future financial difficulties
- 22% of people living with HIV aged 50+ rated their current wellbeing as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.
- People living with HIV aged 50 and over have on average three times as many long term health conditions as the general population.
- 84% of people living with HIV aged 50 and over were concerned about how they will manage multiple health conditions in the future.
- People living with HIV aged 50+ have faced discrimination from social care professionals due to their HIV status.
- 82% of over 50s living with HIV were concerned about whether they would be able to access adequate social care in the future.
- 88% had not made financial plans to fund future care needs.
- A third were socially isolated and 82% experienced moderate to high levels of loneliness.
Over 50s are the fastest growing group of people living with HIV – 1,018 individuals aged 50 and over were diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2015 and now over one third of people living with HIV in the UK are over 50. This group, the first generation growing older with HIV, are entering uncharted territory.
The Terrence Higgins Trust will be sharing stories, stats and asking supporters to stand with those 50 and over living with HIV on social media as part of the drive to amplify the voices of older people living with HIV. Please do share and spread the word about #UnchartedTerritory.