White House Meeting on HIV & Aging

The Graying of AIDS was honored to join a group of activists, providers, researchers, and government agency representatives for a meeting on HIV and aging convened by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) on October 27, 2010.

ONAP’s blog includes a post on the meeting, which includes

  • links to the meeting agenda
  • Dr. Amy Justice’s Powerpoint presentation on epidemiology and clinical issues related to aging and HIV
  • a video of (most of) the meeting itself; and
  • a special video presentation created by the cast and crew of the ABC series Brothers & Sisters, which recently included a storyline on an older character living with the virus.

From our perspective, the meeting was a terrific introduction to a range of people from different backgrounds with often complementary perspectives on issues relevant to aging with HIV, including HIV+ older adults working in research, community action, public policy, service provision, and government agencies.

Among the many highlights of the meeting (far too many to provide a complete list here):

  • While all attendees discussed how older positive adults are regularly stigmatized for both their HIV-status and their age, several highlighted the unique challenges confronting some groups that are marginalized for other reasons as well, including those living in rural communities far from much needed services, and transgendered people for whom trans-phobia can affect everything from the ability to access mainstream employment to having access to sensitive, quality medical care. (As Joanne Keatley from The Center for Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF pointed out, it is impossible to cite precise statistics on the degree to which HIV/AIDS affects the transgender population because of the way the CDC has, to date, captured gender identity in its statistics; Jonathan Mermin from the CDC later announced that we can look forward to changes on this front in the not-too-distant future.)
  • After Dr. Amy Justice (Yale School of Medicine and West Haven VA Healthcare System) discussed the shifting demographics of the epidemic, and some of the diverse clinical manifestations and challenges confronting older adults aging with the virus, Tyler TerMeer (National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors) reminded us that babies born with HIV and now in their teens and twenties are also long-term survivors“aging with HIV,” and that their experiences and challenges are also worthy of our attention and resources.
  • In addition to the need to address ignorance, misinformation, and ageism among care providers, many acknowledged the need to confront discrimination on the institutional level. Scott Schoettes (Lambda Legal) talked about his experience representing Dr. Robert Franke and his family in their lawsuit against the Arkansas nursing home that ejected him because of his HIV-status (see previous blog post) with a cameo by the Frankes themselves; The Graying of AIDS community partner, Broadway House’s Jeanine Reilly, reported on her personal experiences confronting misinformation among nursing home administrators when she presents at professional meetings around the country; and Allison Nicholl (Department of Justice) spoke on HIV-related discrimination, the need to inform providers about their responsibilities, and the need to educate older adults about their rights.

  • To hear all of this and more, check out the ONAP blog and links at:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/11/01/highlighting-hiv-issues-among-older-americans

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