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Successful Aging is Associated with Better Health Literacy in Older Adults with HIV Disease

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People with HIV (PWH) are susceptible to neurocognitive, physical, and mental health problems that may decrease their likelihood of experiencing successful aging. This cross-sectional, retrospective study estimated the extent to which health literacy is associated with successful aging among 116 older PWH and 60 persons without HIV. Successful aging was defined using indicators of biological health, cognitive efficiency, mental health, and productivity. Health literacy was measured using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine, Newest Vital Sign, Brief Health Literacy Screening, and Beliefs Related to Medication Adherence. A series of logistic regressions covarying for education showed that better health literacy was associated with a higher frequency of successful aging among older PWH. Older PWH were approximately three times less likely to experience successful aging as compared to older adults without HIV. Future studies may examine whether improving health literacy among younger PWH increases the likelihood of successful aging.


Las personas que viven con VIH (PVVIH) son susceptibles de padecer problemas neurocognitivos, físicos y mentales que pueden reducir sus probabilidades de experimentar un envejecimiento exitoso. Este estudio transversal y retrospectivo estimó el grado en el que la alfabetización en salud está asociada con el envejecimiento exitoso entre 116 PVVIH mayores y 60 personas sin VIH. El envejecimiento exitoso se definió utilizando indicadores de salud biológica, eficiencia cognitiva, salud mental y productividad. La alfabetización en salud se midió mediante el Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine, Newest Vital Sign, Brief Health Literacy Screening y Beliefs Related to Medication Adherence. Una serie de regresiones logísticas con covarianza para la educación mostró que una mejor alfabetización en salud estaba asociada con una mayor frecuencia de envejecimiento exitoso entre las PVVIH mayores. Las personas mayores con VIH tenían aproximadamente tres veces menos probabilidades de experimentar envejecimiento exitoso en comparación con los adultos mayores sin VIH. Futuros estudios podrían examinar si la mejora de la alfabetización en salud entre las PVVIH más jóvenes aumenta la probabilidad de envejecimiento exitoso.

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The authors are grateful to the UC San Diego HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program (HNRP) Group (I. Grant, PI) for their infrastructure support; in particular, we thank Donald Franklin, Dr. Erin Morgan, Clint Cushman, and Stephanie Corkran for their assistance with data processing, Marizela Verduzco for her assistance with study management, Drs. Scott Letendre and Ronald J. Ellis for their assistance with the neuromedical aspects of the parent project, and Dr. J. Hampton Atkinson and Jennifer Marquie Beck and their assistance with participant recruitment and retention. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, nor the United States Government. The authors thank the study volunteers for their participation.


This study was supported by NIH grants R01-MH073419, R21-MH098607 and P30-MH62512.

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Correspondence to Steven Paul Woods.

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Gomez, E.M., Woods, S.P. & Beltran-Najera, I. Successful Aging is Associated with Better Health Literacy in Older Adults with HIV Disease. AIDS Behav 28, 811–819 (2024).

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