Today, September 18, is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. The need for such a day is not lost on those who work directly, or indirectly with persons who live with HIV/AIDS, or in the field of education and prevention. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the importance of remembering that there are many affected by the disease, who are over 50.
The aging population comprises both people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as those newly diagnosed, and learning how to navigate a health care system that is not always knowledgeable and supportive. Early detection for older adults is critical, since the newly diagnosed virus is often competing, if you will, with other, pre-existing conditions.
However, the prognosis of outcome is most certainly different in 2015 than it was in 1985, thanks to ongoing research and development of effective drugs. Further, there is now a preventative drug, Pre–Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, which is gaining more approval from the medical community, and acceptance by people who might be at high risk. Additionally, education is still a vital answer to the end of new diagnoses of the disease. This education needs to include distribution of safer sex kits, as well as advocating for testing of adults over 50.
AIDS Project of the Ozarks, Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Human Services, DOORWAYS, Gay & Lesbian Community Center of the Ozarks (GLO), Merit Home Health Care, SAGE of PROMO Fund, Saint Louis County Department of Public Health and Saint Louis Effort for AIDS pledge to continue our work to educate about safer sex practices, and the increased risk of HIV/AIDS to older adults. We promise to provide the most compassionate care possible, both to people living with HIV/AIDS, and to those newly diagnosed. We will speak loudly and consistently to reduce, and ultimately remove, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, in order to afford dignity and respect for all those affected by the disease.