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Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall

Today, HRC marks National HIV & AIDS Aging Awareness Day, which provides a vital opportunity to shine a spotlight on the impact of HIV and AIDS on older adults in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people ages 50 and older make up 26% of all people in the U.S. living with HIV. Of older adults living with HIV, 49% of new HIV diagnoses in 2015 were among gay and bisexual men.

In recent years, the LGBTQ community has benefited from biomedical interventions such as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that prevents HIV when taken as prescribed.  

Yet many older adults living with HIV do not know their status and are unaware of the current realities of HIV prevention, treatment and care. Additionally, medical providers may be less likely to order routine STD and HIV testing for older Americans.

Per CDC research, people ages 50 and older account for:

  • 18% of new HIV diagnoses;
  • 27% of all AIDS diagnoses;
  • 59% of all deaths of persons living with AIDS.

Older adults living with HIV face unique challenges for preventing and treating other diseases, as age and HIV both increase the risk for certain cancers, bone loss and cardiovascular diseases. Medications used to treat HIV must also be carefully managed with others taken to treat common age-related conditions, including diabetes, elevated cholesterol and hypertension.

Stigma and shame prevent many older adults -- particularly LGBTQ people -- from talking with their health care providers about these issues due to fear of discrimination. Too often they do not have the support of family or friends and may face isolation from illness or loss of community.

We must raise awareness and advocate for older adults living in our communities who have paved the way for our movement today and who need our support now. 

For more information on HRC Foundation’s work to end HIV and HIV-related stigma, click here.

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