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St James’s launches specialised clinic for over-65s living with HIV

By Catherine Reilly - 12th Jul 2021

The GUIDe Clinic at St James’s Hospital, Dublin is teaming up with the hospital’s Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) to establish the Platinum Clinic for people aged 65 and over who are living with HIV.

A collaboration between two specialist consultants, Dr Emma Devitt and Dr David Robinson, the clinic aims to empower patients to live healthy, independent lives as they get older. 

Dr Devitt, Consultant in HIV Medicine, said; “This is a great new service for GUIDe clinic patients living with HIV. Many have lived through difficult times over the years with HIV/AIDS and associated stigma. They are now living very well on modern HIV treatment and we want to facilitate successful healthy living into older age.

“Considering HIV/AIDS was first described 40 years ago this month and so many million people died worldwide of the HIV pandemic, it is wonderful that people living with HIV (PLWH) can now have a normal life expectancy with modern treatment.”

Dr Robinson, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, said; “Increased life span is one of the success stories of modern times, and so is the increased longevity of people living with HIV. The Platinum Clinic will address syndromes common in ageing such as frailty or memory issues, but also the social circumstances of people, which can vary widely.

“HIV can be associated with increased risk of osteoporosis or cognitive issues. Many people living with HIV didn’t expect to grow old, some are socially isolated, and many don’t have a good support network. An interdisciplinary clinic is a proven approach to address these needs.”

The joint-care model will deliver advanced treatment plans to assist the patients in successful ageing. The programme will also involve social prescribing, which involves prescribing patients a range of social activities to keep them active and engaged with society.

It will be the first such clinic for PLWH in Ireland.

Four decades have passed since HIV was first recognised in June 1981. At the time, little information was publicly available about the virus and those infected often faced major stigmatisation.

In 1987, to combat the epidemic, St James’s Hospital, spearheaded by Prof Fiona Mulcahy, established the HIV service and the Department of Genitourinary Medicine (now the GUIDe Clinic).

Its services expanded in 2000 with the appointment of Infectious Diseases Consultant Prof Colm Bergin. Alongside their colleagues, Prof Mulcahy and Prof Bergin have worked tirelessly to provide the best care to HIV patients.

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