Psychological symptoms among persons 50 years of age and older living with HIV disease

Aging Ment Health. 2002 May;6(2):121-8. doi: 10.1080/13607860220126709a.


Although persons 50 years of age and older account for 10% of all US AIDS cases, the mental health needs of this growing group remain largely overlooked. The current study delineated patterns and predictors of psychological symptoms amongst late middle-aged and older adults living with HIV/AIDS in two large US cities. In late 1998, 83 HIV-infected individuals 50-plus years of age (M = 55.2, Range = 50-69) completed self-report surveys eliciting data on psychological symptomatology, HIV-related life-stressor burden, social support, barriers to health care and social services, and sociodemographic characteristics. Based on the Beck Depression Inventory, 25% of participants reported 'moderate' or 'severe' levels of depression. HIV-infected older adults also evidenced an elevated number of symptoms characteristic of somatization. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that HIV-infected older adults who endorsed more psychological symptoms also reported more HIV-related life-stressor burden, less support from friends, and reduced access to health care and social services due to AIDS-related stigma. As the impact of HIV on older communities continues to increase, geropractitioners must be prepared to provide care to greater numbers of HIV-infected older adults, a substantial minority of whom will present with complex comorbid physical and mental health conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological