National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day
Today marks the 5th National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day—an observance created to focus attention on the unique challenges aging adults face regarding HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.
By 2015, more than half of all people living with HIV in the United States will be over 50, according to federal estimates, and people age 50 and up account for 17% of all new HIV/AIDS today.
To learn more about the medical, biological, and psychosocial factors that complicate HIV prevention and care in later life—and to learn about older people’s strengths and resiliencies to cope with these challenges—see BETA’s “Resource Round-Up: Aging and HIV.” You’ll find key research, expert opinions, candid discussions, and resources for living long and well with the virus.
Also, take a moment to be moved and inspired by the images and personal stories of people growing older with HIV around the world. The Graying of AIDS: Stories from an Aging Epidemic presents portraits and oral histories of long-term HIV/AIDS survivors and people who acquired HIV in later life. The goal of the project is to share HIV/AIDS information, raise awareness, and promote sensitivity and collaboration among health care professionals.
A companion website, “A Graying Pandemic,” shares portraits and messages from older HIV-positive participants in the 19th International AIDS Conference, help last July in Washington, DC. Below is a selection of quotes from the project—angry or serene, somber or hopeful, all are illuminating.
“Positive” doesn’t have anything to do with my intellect. Stop talking to me like I’m a child and you have to take care of me. I’m just as strong and independent as I was before I was diagnosed. —Ann, age “over 50”
I always have to ensure that the community that I’m living in as I get older is supportive for gay people and lesbians and all the LGBT community. And also that it’s a community that understands and does not stigmatize or victimize people, however they got AIDS. —Emmanuel, age 61
I sit around in church, and I look around—‘cause mostly seniors go to church—and I say to myself, “How many of y’all are HIV [positive] like I am?” —Rosemary, age 63
I look at myself as a beautiful patchwork quilt made up of pieces of all the people I love that are no longer with me. —Anna, age 64
This is a joyous time in my life. I’m able to realize a lot of things that I never thought I would. I never thought I’d be 59. I never thought anyone would be interested in my story, or taking my photograph. So a lot of things are coming true for me. I’m happy. —Margot, age 59
Click here to read more messages and view the portraits.