National HIV/AIDS & Aging Awareness Day recognized PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune   
Friday, 04 October 2013 08:35
AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio) and the Ohio AIDS Coalition (OAC) are observing the six-year anniversary of the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.  
Created to recognize the unique challenges faced by those aging with HIV, this awareness day underscores the shifting landscape of the United States domestic HIV epidemic to a manageable long term chronic illness with near normal life expectancy.
By 2015, 50 percent of people living with HIV will be 50 years or older, reflecting the United States' growing aging population in general.  That number is expected to reach 70 percent by 2020.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 24 percent of all new HIV infections occur among people 45 years and older.
A lack of prevention education combined with a culture that is less likely to discuss sex or be asked to discuss sex with peers or medical professionals has led to this unexpected health crisis.  As seen in the U.S. HIV epidemic, aging African Americans and Latinos are the most severely affected, yet the least likely to be diagnosed or accessing care.  
Isolation, most often due to HIV-related stigma, remains one of the largest barriers to care for people aging with HIV.  Fewer than 15 percent of older Americans living with HIV/AIDS have a partner or spouse, and aging gays and lesbians are much less likely to have the support of family or friends, having come of age in a less understanding time.
"The current care system is not ready for the influx of our country's aging population, yet these challenges are even greater when considering the multiple  health concerns faced by older Americans living with HIV," said Bill Hardy, CEO of AIDS Resource Center Ohio. The agency makes referrals to community partners "for the management of complex co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, which can be exacerbated or fueled by a client's HIV status."
ARC Ohio is a statewide non-profit AIDS service organization.

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