AIDS At 35 Time to Do More for Those Living Longest with HIV

AIDS At 35, Time to Do More for Those Living Longest with HIV. This year’s theme “Moving Forward Together,” celebrates those who have defied the odds by living with HIV for decades and now face a myriad of interconnected mental, social and medical challenges rooted in HIV-stigma, aging, ageism, and economic distress that impacts functional health-related quality of life issues. Let’s Kick ASS the largest grassroots group of HIV long-term survivors anywhere began HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day in 2014 because we were stunned no such day existed. HIV Long-Term Survivors have different medical needs from other populations. Our social and mental health was not being a addressed. That was then. It’s on a little better now but no where good enough. We’re asking for your help—survivors in raising awareness about these unique needs as we mark two significant milestones in 2016 –35 years since HIV was identified (June 5, 1981) and 20 years since Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) was introduced. Long-term survival, once an almost unimaginable concept is now a reality. Let’s Kick ASS is focused is on ensuring that HIV Long-Term Survivors and Older Adults Living with HIV are not invisible and forgotten in the current HIV dialogue. One thing is clear. We must make mental and social health a priority in AIDS Care. Our care is about more than medications and viral loads. It’s time to change the narrative from surviving to thriving. Achieving that goal mean equipping older adults with HIV tools for healthy aging. Here are some things we need to make Moving Forward Together Forward possible. We are asking HIV long-term survivors, and those who support and love them, to commit to making these priorities. We want to enlist (nudge) AIDS Service Organizations, mental health and medical providers too. Prioritize HIV and Aging Issues Through Awareness and Age Appropriate Services The numbers demand it. Currently, over half of all people living with HIV are over the age of 50. By 2020 it is predicted to soar to 70 percent based on CDC data. The new face of HIV is aging, yet we do not see our faces represented nor our most pressing issues and needs being addressed. A shortage of appropriate anti-stigma and mental healthcare, no programs to alleviate poverty and lack of social outlets is contributing to declining health. These growing aging communities require urgent attention. People living with HIV over age 50 face unique and pronounced challenges. New York City recently determined that 25% of New Yorkers living with HIV are Long-Term Survivors. That percentage may apply nationally, but we do not have those statistics yet. While we are talking about “Ending AIDS” we need to ask ourselves what about the survivors? End Ongoing Systemic Institutional Invisibility of HIV Long-Term Survivors. Most HIV/AIDS service organizations have designated programs for youth and are focused on PrEP. We’re all for those programs. One new HIV infection is one too many. But where are these programs, case managers and services for older adults? PrEP and …