June 5 is HIV Long-Term Survivors Day

Every year people join together to celebrate and honor the Long-Term Survivors of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Please join with us in raising awareness about the needs, issues and journeys of HIV Long-Term Survivors (HLTS) as we mark two significant milestones – it has been 35 years since HIV was identified on June 5, 1981. It is 20 years since Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) was introduced.

The theme for 2016 is “Moving Forward Together”. It celebrates those who have defied the odds by living with HIV for decades. Our focus is on ensuring that HIV Long-Term Survivors and Older Adults Living with HIV are not invisible and forgotten in the current HIV dialogue. We want to change the narrative from surviving to thriving. Achieving that goal requires older adults with HIV to be equipped for healthy aging. Long-term survival, once an almost unimaginable concept is now the norm.

With courage and compassion, we survived the darkest days of the plague. Without access to effective treatments, we were forced to rely on each other and ourselves. As individuals and a community, we exhibited strength we didn’t know we had. Now we’re face the conundrums of aging. Celebrating our lives is what the day is all about.

Today over half of all people living with HIV in the US are over 50. By 2020 that will increase to 70 percent. The mew face of HIV is aging. However, HIV and Aging is not a monolith. A case can be made that Pre-HAART survivors and Post-HAART survivors are separate cohorts with overlapping but different medical and psychosocial needs. Longest term survivors, those who acquired HIV before 1996, face different medical issues and decades of planning to is having an impact on our lives now.

We now find ourselves confronting the realities of aging— something that was unimaginable before 1996. We’re the generation who were told to plan to die young. By the end of that year, in the U.S. we witnessed the deaths of 362,004 of our loved ones and community. 6.4 million people had died form AIDS worldwide.

We chose June 5 to commemorate the day the CDC first announced the mysterious illness that was killing young gay men. It was the beginning of HIV/AIDS awareness before it was known as HIV/AIDS.

There’s a meme that “we lost an entire generation.” While we did a lot of our generation their are by recent estimates, 26% of Longest-Term Survivors alive now. Let’s celebrate, honor and appreciate that they still have years go and it is all our job to help them become the elders of our tribe.

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MMRW 1981

Why June 5?

On June 5, 1981 the Centers for Disease Control’s published a notice about  cases of a rare pneumonia affecting several young gay men living in Los Angeles. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report notes that two had died from their illness. That piece prompted newspapers in San Francisco then New York.

June 5th 1981 was the beginning of HIV/AIDS Awareness before it had a name.

Read Our Long-Term Survivors Declaration : A Vision For Our Future

The HIV Long-Term Survivors Declaration: A Vision For Our Future has been read or downloaded over 20,000 times! It is used to spark discussions among survivors and groups, health departments and agencies. It is making an impact.

Click here to download it.

A Day To Call Our Own

Why another HIV awareness day? Read Tez Anderson's article on POZ.com about why it matters...

Creators of HLTSAD

  • iam@resilient.hiv
  • LetsKickASS.hiv
  • 4111 18th Street, Suite 5 San Francisco, CA 94114

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