Profiling Frailty in a Population of Older Adults Living With Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) In Ireland

2020-07-24T14:39:13Z (GMT) by Chiara Reddin


Due to advances in healthcare in recent years, people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (PLWH) are for the first time reaching older age since the HIV epidemic began in the 1980s. It is known that PLWH suffer from premature ageing syndromes, such as frailty, younger than the general population (Bhatia et al., 2012). This presents new challenges for healthcare professionals in facilitating older PLWH to live better for longer into older age and in minimising the impact of disability.

Aims & Objectives

The aim and primary objective of this study was to profile frailty in a cohort of older PLWH in Ireland. Secondary objectives were to investigate their levels of social connectedness, quality of life and perceptions about ageing.


A cross-sectional study design was employed using a sample of convenience. Seventeen

participants aged 50 years and older were assessed for frailty using the Fried frailty phenotype. Levels of social connectedness, quality of life and perceptions about ageing were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Ethical approval was obtained from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and St. James Hospital/ Tallaght Research Ethics Committees.


Seventeen participants were included in the final analysis. The prevalence of frailty was 6% in the sample (n=1). Pre-frailty was highly prevalent at 71% (n=12). Levels of social connectedness indicated moderate connection and increased reliance on familiar relationships rather than friendships with a median score of 16 on the Lubben Social Network Scale-6 (LSNS-6) and an IQR or 10. Low levels of physical activity were observed in over half of participants (n=9). Quality of life was measured using the Control, Autonomy, Social and Pleasure Scale-19 (CASP- 19) and showed moderate quality of life with a median score of 39 and an IQR of 11. Perceptions about aging as reported on the Ageing Perceptions Questionnaire (APQ) were found to be largely positive with median scores of 22.7 and an IQR of 3.4.


Older people living with HIV in Ireland present with high levels of pre-frailty, moderate levels of social connection, low levels of physical activity, moderate quality of life and largely positive perceptions about ageing.

Implications of Findings

Further longitudinal cohort studies should be carried out further investigating the impact of ageing on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV, particularly investigating the presence or development of frailty over time.