Background: HIV infection among elderly is an increasing problem in the world and in Brazil. People sexual lifespan increased, what facilitates HIV infection at older ages, and
successful antiretroviral therapy make HIV infected people live longer. HIV infection accelerates aging, leading to premature frailty, sarcopenia and osteo-metabolic related diseases. Exercises,
including resistance training, are amongst the most valuables non-medical therapeutics for improving health conditions related to aging, also in people living with HIV. In this study, we show how to
establish a successful resistance-training program directed to this population.
Methods: We adapted the ACSM resistance training protocol to apply it to elderly HIV infected. We also developed a specific approach to convince those people and their doctors of the
benefits and safety of engaging in an oriented resistance-training program. It consists of two one-hour sessions per week, including only the main exercise for all major muscular groups, under the
supervision of expert professionals, supervised by a trained physician. Exercise comprised three series of progressive loads and decreasing 12-8 repetitions, with sub-maximal load being the highest
used in the last series, for each muscular group. In the event of an interruption of the training program due to medical or social conditions, frequent on this population, participants were
re-evaluated on readmission and the program tailored to their actual condition.
Results: 108 HIV positive adults older than 60 years old were invited to participate in the training program, of whom only 14 begun. Complains of no interest, not having time or
having impeding clinical conditions were the main reasons mentioned for declining the invitation. In addition, only 11 of the 14 who started the program ended the first year of training. The abandon
occurred due to new medical conditions or worsening of the initial clinical picture. Those who completed the one-year protocol achieved very promising results, without any significant adverse event.
Their strength increased on average 23.33 kg, p=0.008, (representing 90% of gain in relation to their initial strength). In addition, their final strength were comparable to those of non-HIV elderly
matched for gender and age for all muscular groups trained. Finally, their performance on functional tests and daily life activities return to normal after the one-year training program.
Conclusions: We demonstrated that, a safe and viable resistance-training program can be designed for elderly living with HIV, even for those with advanced disease, resulting in
significant improvement of strength and daily-life activities performance.