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Research Note: Older Adults Living With HIV/AIDS in Ontario, Canada
posted 01.31.2012

By David J. Brennan and Charles A. Emlet

HIV & Aging Blog Series

Click below to read additional articles in this series from the LGBT Aging Issues Network.

HIV and Aging: Challenges for the Fourth Decade of HIV
By Nathan L. Linsk, guest editor of this series

Success with HIV Provides an Opportunity for Leadership
By Stephen E. Karpiak

Identifying Challenges in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Management at the Sixth Annual National Conference on HIV/AIDS and Aging
By James P. Campbell

Research Note: Health Disparities Among LGBT Older Adults Living With HIV 
By Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen and Charles A. Emlet

Research Note: New Boston Study on HIV/AIDS Packed with Over-50 Info
By James Campbell

Advocacy in Action: LGBT Elders Take Pride!
By James P. Campbell

Aging and HIV: An Overview of Neurocognitive Concerns
By Kevin J. Kukoleck

HIV and Aging Resources 
By Ken South, Hope Barrett, Katja Heinemann and Naomi Schegloff

While advances in HIV treatment and therapy have extended the life expectancy of persons living with HIV disease, factors associated with mental health resiliency, mental health quality of life (MHQOL) and HIV-stigma among this population are rarely examined. Our recent research has uncovered important aspects of positive adjustment to illness among older people living with HIV (PHAs), and identified the socio-demographic, psychological and health-related variables that contribute to HIV-related stigma in a sample of older PHAs living in Ontario, Canada.

These cross-sectional studies analyzed data from PHAs (ages 50 to 86) who participated in the Ontario HIV Treatment Network’s Cohort Study (OCS) between September 2007 and March 2010. OCS is a community-governed, multi-site study that voluntarily collects clinical and socio-behavioral information from PHAs in clinical settings across Ontario. 

Canadian and American researchers found feelings of mastery and self-efficacy and interpersonal resources such as social and informational support to be protective against the deleterious effects of stigma, while maladaptive coping and a shorter time since diagnosis were associated with greater stigma among older adults participating in the OCS.

The same team of researchers found that among older PHAs, men, particularly gay-bisexual men, reported higher mental health resiliency than women. Additionally, having emotional and informational support appears to increase the level of MHQOL among this sample. Identifying as Black or African was also associated with higher MHQOL.

In the future, it may be helpful to examine the mechanisms that have fostered resiliency among sub-populations, as it will help determine practice and policy initiatives that will maintain such resiliency among older PHAs. And, a better understanding of these mechanisms can be used to determine interventions to enhance resiliency among older PHAs struggling with MHQOL.


David J. Brennan, Ph.D., is Ontario HIV Treatment Network Scholar, and assistant professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Ontario.

Charles A. Emlet, Ph.D., ACSW, is a professor in the Social Work Program, University of Washington, Tacoma, Wa.

This article is brought to you by the editorial board of ASA’s LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN).

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