Premature aging seen as issue for AIDS survivors

By LISA LEFF | June 11, 2011 | 12:59 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Having survived the first years of the AIDS epidemic, when he was losing three friends to the disease in a day and undergoing every primitive treatment that then existed, Peter Greene is grateful to be alive.

But a quarter-century after his own diagnosis, the former Mr. Gay Colorado, now 56, wrestles with vision impairment, bone density loss and other debilitating health problems he once assumed he wouldn't grow old enough to see.

Even when AIDS still was almost always fatal, researchers predicted that people infected with HIV would be more prone to the cancers, neurological disorders and heart conditions that typically afflict the elderly.

Thirty years after the first diagnoses, doctors are seeing these and other unanticipated signs of premature or "accelerated" aging in some long-term survivors.