The Impact of the AIDS Epidemic on Older Persons
(with a focus on Thailand)
HIV/AIDS is usually viewed as a disease affecting reproductive-age adults and their infant children. Discussions rarely consider the impact on older persons and, when they do, they typically focus on those who are infected themselves. Not only can older adults contract HIV themselves but a far greater number of older persons are affected through the infection of significant others, especially their adult children. The pathways through which they are affected include caregiving, coresidence and providing financial and material support during the illness, paying funeral expenses, fostering orphaned grandchildren, losing current and old-age support that the child would have provide, and suffering grief and emotional stress. These in turn can have profound consequences for their economic, social, psychological, and physical well-being. At the same time, by playing a major role in caregiving, older persons make significant contributions to the well-being of their infected sons and daughters and, by assuming the role of foster parents, to the grandchildren who are left behind.
A joint team of Thai and U.S. researchers from the University of Michigan, Tulane University, Chulalongkorn University, and Mahidol University have been studying the impact of AIDS on older persons in Thailand since 1998 through grants from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (Grants AG15983 and AG18648). The project utilizes a multi-method approach and aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of a wide range of impacts on older Thais and their implications for understanding the impact on older persons in other settings.
The research team is comprised of John Knodel, Mark VanLandingham, Wassana Im-em, Jiraporn Kespichayawattana, and Chanpen Saengtienchai.