Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gay Men's Health Crisis Commemorates National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) on Tuesday, September 18 helps to raise attention to the critical issues faced by older people living with and at risk of HIV.

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 75% of HIV-positive New Yorkers are now 40 and older, and more than a third are 50 or older.  Women over age 50 comprise a growing percentage of new HIV diagnoses among older adults.

By 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over half of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV will be over the age of 50.  Yet our nation is not prepared for the medical and social implications of this growing population. Existing research on appropriate treatment is meager, and HIV and AIDS stigma are widespread among older communities. Moreover, the myth that older adults are not sexually active causes a serious barrier to prevention and care.

The United States needs to increase response to social services and research on aging with HIV, prevention programs geared towards older adults, as well as culturally competent training for care-providers.

"GMHC continues to highlight this trend and in 2010 issued a report, 'Growing Older With the Epidemic: Aging and HIV' to better emphasize solutions for this critical problem," said Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC.  "We remain committed to working with local and national leadership and our elected officials to address the complexities of HIV and aging."

In August, GMHC partnered with ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America) and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) to host a satellite session titled, "HIV and Aging: The Challenge of the Epidemic's Fourth Decade," at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.

GMHC recently launched a public service campaign, "HIV is Ageless," noting that regardless of a person's age, anyone can be at risk for HIV if they have unprotected sex or share needles, and encouraging people to seek free HIV testing at the GMHC Center for HIV Prevention, 224 West 29th Street.  
For NHAAAD, GMHC is also providing free HIV testing at the Senior Health Fair on Thursday, September 20, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Riverbank State Park, 145th Street and the Riverside Drive.

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