Aging, HIV, Noncommunicable Disease, and Poverty: A Case Study of Syndemics in a Low-Income Population

Enid Schatz , University of Missouri, Columbia
Brian Houle, Australian National University
Nicole Angotti, American University
Francesc Gomez-Olive, Harvard University
Sanyu Mojola, Princeton University

The landscape of health in South Africa is shifting. The HIV epidemic is aging due to anti-retroviral treatment rollout and continued HIV risk at older ages. Simultaneously, social, health and economic risk factors are contributing to an emerging non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemic. Poverty and post-apartheid social conditions include a split public/private health care system, relegating poorer individuals to less robust care. Public services further marginalize older persons in ill health as the services were designed for maternal and child health, and TB/HIV care, but not for NCDs or diseases of aging. Employing a “syndemics” framework and a qualitative case study and survey data from rural northeastern South Africa, we highlight the need to explore the intersections between aging, HIV, NCDs and poverty. By incorporating a biosocial conception of health, we can better understand older South Africans’ health profiles, and generate more holistic interventions to address their critical health needs.

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 Presented in Session 96. Triple Burden of Diseases in the Global South