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AIDS and the challenges of aging

Cape Cod's older HIV patients — in their 60s and beyond — face a number of health and day-to-day-living problems unique to their age.

But at the same time, they're among the lucky few to have resilient genes in the face of the deadly virus.

Of the 250 HIV-positive clients of Cape Cod Healthcare's Infectious Disease Clinical Services unit, about a dozen are at least 70 years old, said Alan Sugar, the unit's medical director. The youngest is 13, he said.

"If you were infected years and years ago, and now you're in your 60s and 70s, obviously you have some kind of genetics on your side," Sugar said. "They've (also) had a lifetime of accumulating what the usual illnesses are. We have to deal with chronic medical problems, like hypertension or family history for stroke. They may have had those things. So they may not be as healthy to start with."

Cape Cod Healthcare runs the region's two largest hospitals, in Hyannis and Falmouth.
 
 

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