Background: Despite marked gains in longevity attributable to antiretroviral therapy (ART), older women living with HIV (OWLH) experience substantial health challenges, and few studies addressed whether they can achieve successful aging (SA). This is among the first studies examining prevalence and psychosocial correlates of self-rated SA (SRSA) among OWLH and women at risk of HIV.
Methods: The sample included 386 OWLH and 137 HIV-seronegative women enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) who were aged 50 years and older and participated in the "From Surviving to Thriving" (FROST) substudy. The FROST survey included measures of SRSA and positive psychosocial constructs.
Results: Participants were on average 57 years (SD = 5.3), 74% African American and 30% unemployed. Among OWLH, 94% were on ART and 73% were virally suppressed. Compared with OWLH, a higher proportion of HIV-seronegative women had an annual income ≤ $6000, no health insurance, and reported lower optimism and health-related quality of life. We found no differences in SRSA prevalence by HIV status: 84% of OWLH and 83% of HIV-seronegative women reported SRSA ≥7 (range = 2-10, higher scores signify better SRSA). Having SRSA ≥7 was associated with higher levels of positive psychosocial characteristics (eg, resilience and optimism) among both OWLH and HIV-seronegative women.
Conclusions: SRSA is achievable among older women with and at risk of HIV despite health complications. Among disadvantaged women, factors other than HIV may be primary drivers of SRSA. Future research is needed to examine determinants of SRSA and to design public health interventions enhancing SA within this population.