Drawing on Experience to Face Evolving Challenges: Mental health, HIV and A...

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Presenters:

Kate Murzin, MPH, Health Programs Specialist, Realize (Toronto, Ontario)

Mary Mwalwanda, Community Health Advocate

Andrew Eaton, MSW, RSW, PhD Candidate & Research Director, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

Summary:

This session will explore the complex relationship between mental health and HIV among older adults. Syndemic theory links HIV vulnerability with epidemics of co-occurring problems that tend to cluster among marginalized groups, including mental health issues, substance use, trauma, and stigma. Living with HIV is also associated with poorer mental health. Pre-existing conditions may persist, and new stressors, such as anxiety related to disclosure, are commonly experienced. Aging, an unexpected reality for many living long-term with HIV, can also be a complicating factor. Ageism, uncertainty about the future, cognitive changes, and loneliness may exacerbate distress leading to disability, neurocognitive symptoms, and poor quality of life. Fortunately, drawing on mature defenses, resilience and mastery developed across the life course and over many years of living with HIV helps many older adults cope with these challenges.

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