On Friday I went to a workshop entitled “HIV/AIDs as we grow older” put on by SAGE, ACRIA and GMHC.
Sage- Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders http://www.sageusa.org/index.cfm
ACRIA- AIDS Community Research Initiative of America http://www.acria.org/
GMHC- Gay Men’s Health Crisis http://www.gmhc.org/
All of these are amazing orgs, you should check them out.
The purpose of this workshop was to discuss the findings of ROAH- Research on Older Adults with HIV. The number of adults age 50 and older with HIV/AIDS rose from 65,655 cases in 2001 to 104,206 cases in 2004. That’s an increase in 59% over three years. Between 10% and 19% of newly diagnosed HIV positive people are 50 years or older. Does that sound surprising to you? It surprised me. One of the big parts of the conversation was about the fact that we don’t really think about people over 50 having unsafe sex and needing to be reminded to use clean needles and condoms. Something I found really interesting was that I was the only person in the workshop in my 20’s and that the majority of attendees were between 40 and 60 years old. It was a visual and literal example of the generational disconnect when it comes to talking about HIV/AIDS prevention.
I’m gonna throw a couple more mind-boggling statistics at you. These can be found by accessing http://www.sageusa.org and finding the “White Paper on HIV & LGBT Aging, January 2010”
*Currently, 29% of all people with AIDS in the US are 50 or older.
*By 2015, *HALF* of persons living with HIV in New York City will be age 50 and older.
*The percent of people with AIDS over the age of 50 is now more than twice that of people under age 24.
Some of the reasons why…Doctors don’t necessarily think that older people are at risk of contracting HIV– physicians that were interviewed “did not give any type of prevention advice to older adults.” HIV testing isn’t offered at senior centers or assisted living facilities, public access information doesn’t address older adults, criminalization laws may discourage folks from getting tested, older men may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or behaviors and aren’t told to get tested etc. etc. etc. This is definitely an issue we need to be looking at, and I need to make sure that I’m not the only person in my 20s who shows up for this stuff. But I didn’t know…did you?