2016 Small Newspaper - Silver


More than half of the 1.25 million Americans infected by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) are age 50 or older, Barbara Peters Smith reported in her award-winning piece. In just four years, that share should reach 70 percent. “As the longevity boom collides with a resurgence of HIV diagnoses nationwide, scientists are just now learning how this persistent, incurable virus ─ along with the powerful drugs that keep it at bay ─ takes a toll on the body that makes natural aging look like a gift,” she wrote. People with HIV experience age-related changes in their DNA more than 14 years sooner than healthy individuals, one study found, and that boosts their risk for earlier onset of frailty, certain cancers, osteoporosis, liver and kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Through interviews with patients, doctors, researchers and a community activist, Smith explored how time is taking its toll on a generation of AIDS survivors. Angela Saini, a London-based freelance science writer, said Smith’s story highlighted “an aspect of the HIV story that gets too often forgotten or ignored.” Smith said her story, inspired by an AIDS researcher who described the accelerated aging process he sees in his patients, “found its heart in Jack Cox of Sarasota, a remarkable HIV-positive gentleman who died at 76 less than a month after the story was published.”