The Atlanta VA Medical Center: HIV and aging veterans

David Rimland, MD (Division of Infectious Diseases)

The Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), which serves 1,600 HIV-positive patients, has the largest HIV patient population of any VAMC in the country. The median age of these patients is 52.

…”[W]e have this older age group… being found positive,” says David Rimland, MD, former chief of infectious diseases at the Atlanta VAMC and Emory emeritus professor of medicine. “We’re also diagnosing more people in their 60s and 70s. Older people are having sex but may not know that they are HIV-infected or that their partner is infected.”

The VA has been proactive in treating HIV-positive patients, following up to make sure they have no detectable viruses, and providing counseling. In turn, mortality rates decreased from 25.9 per 100 veterans in 1994 to 1.2 per 100 veterans in 2012. “We’ve done a great job of keeping people alive,” Rimland says. “This older population is doing very well from an HIV standpoint.”

But now, they are dealing with other diseases as well as the challenges of aging. “Can you imagine if you were diagnosed 20 years ago when you were 40? We didn’t have much to offer back then, in terms of treatment, so you thought you would be dead in five years,” he says. “Then, suddenly, you’re doing great, you’re getting older, and you hadn’t planned on that at all.” Continue reading




Related Links
Aging with HIV (Emory Medicine magazine)
Aging with HIV: New frontier, new challenges (Emory News Center blog)
Atlanta VA Medical Center
Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University Department of Medicine
Read Dr. Rimland’s faculty biography
Emory University Department of Medicine
Emory University School of Medicine

About the Author

Emory Department of Medicine
Emory Department of Medicine

The Emory University Department of Medicine, within the Emory University School of Medicine, is steeped in a rich tradition of excellence. Through the work of its nine divisions and numerous centers and institutes, the department has pioneered discoveries in medicine, education, scientific and clinical investigation, and clinical care. Emory University School of Medicine’s medical school, residency, transitional-year, and fellowship programs offer students the latest knowledge in treatment practices, scientific theories, research, and patient care.

The Emory University Department of Medicine is a component of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University, which includes the Emory schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare.