|Laurie Garrett (r) and colleague|
- Inside cells all over the body the energy engines are the mitochondria, and their ability to generate the body’s ATP fuel is impaired, leading to muscular and aerobic weakness.
- At the tips of cells’ gene-holders, the chromosomes are segments called telomeres. In all human beings those telomeres shorten as people age. For people infected with HIV the telomere shortening process appears to be more rapid, possibly indicating their cells are literally aging faster.
- Most HIV+ individuals lose their ability over time to properly absorb Vitamin D, and the reductions in D lead to poor maintenance of their bones. As a result, they are significantly more likely to suffer osteoporosis and bone fractures.
- Kidney stones and kidney failure are turning out to be hallmarks of HIV infection, increasing with the age of the patient.
- A long list of cardiovascular problems is showing up with alarming frequency, including sudden onset heart attacks, hypertension, stroke, and lipodistrophy.
- With time many HIV+ individuals evidence declining neurocognitive function, leading to dementia, forgetfulness, and disorientation.
- Psychologically, the combined burdens of aging, stigma, living with HIV and social isolation prove to be more than many can bear: Depression and suicide are the result.
Laurie Garrett's article was originally published on lauriegarrett.com on Friday, July 27, 2012 lauriegarrett.com