Bill Transcript

No matter what we do, sex is a beautiful gift, because it is such an exhilarating feeling, and it’s such a positive way of getting the feeling that I am wanted in this world, I am respected in this world, and I am loved in this world. And it’s what we all want.

In July of 1985, I was in a relation with another person. He had been very ill, so while he was getting tested, I figured I'd get tested too. We both became HIV positive patients. He only lasted till October. [...]

Recurring Themes – Stigma

Dealing with any illness can be difficult, but the stigma associated with certain diseases can add additional hardship in the form of judgment and social exclusion. Some illnesses are more heavily stigmatized than others; HIV/AIDS has been particularly stigmatized since the beginning of the epidemic.

We made tremendous progress, but we still have a ways to go, and since we’re dealing with such bedrock values and issues around sexuality, sexual activity, drug use, it’s going to be slow to change some of the remaining amounts of the value issues that lead to stigma. —Ronald Johnson, age 58. [...]

Sue Transcript

I’ve been to places like that where people over 50 live. And these ladies, older ladies, say: oh, but he’s so good looking, and he’s so clean. And he’s such a good dancer. Does she ever ask him if he’s ever been tested? No.

The guy that I was so madly in love with lost about fifty pounds. He couldn’t go out dancing all night. We used to go fishing all day, dance all night. And he could hardly walk. I said, "what’s the matter with you?" He wouldn’t say anything. So the doctor called me over and he said, "have you been tested?" [...]

Thomas & Linda Transcript

Linda: I look at him how he was, and I look at him now, I feel so bad. Because I remember the vibrant Thomas, you know, not the Thomas that can’t hardly get up. He’s all skin and bones, and it hurts me just to see how skinny he is.

Thomas: I’m thinking I’m one way, but I see somebody else in the mirror.

Linda: He’s ahead of the game ’cause he still got life. Think about all the people that’s not here, that had the disease. [...]

Feature: Dee

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Feature: Larry

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Feature: Linda & Thomas

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Feature: Los Doctores

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Coming Soon!

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Read more on the History of HIV/AIDS in the United States here.… Read More…

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Dee Transcript

I don’t feel old. I never thought of myself as being 57, 60. I didn’t think that far, you know. I feel young at heart. I like to have fun. I don’t know, just being happy.

They didn’t expect me to pull through. I was really sick. They gave me last rites. But I survived. And here I am…Which I’m glad. I don’t know the exact date that I got it, but I would say about 20 years ago. I think I got it from my husband. I’m pretty sure, pretty sure.

Recurring Themes – Communication

Communicating about HIV and risk behaviors related to sex or substance use can be difficult. Even when they know how to keep themselves safe, people often have a hard time talking to their partners about things like safer sex. Older adults who grew up at a time when discussion of sexuality was considered improper or vulgar can find these conversations particularly awkward. While everyone fears rejection, the stakes can be even higher for older adults who regularly struggle with feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Older people living with HIV appear to be particularly vulnerable [...]

Los Doctores Transcript

Louis: She took a chance with me. It’s funny, I’m positive, but I didn’t wanna ask a woman that was negative if they would like to go out with me, because of the rejection that I might get. But then I noticed, I was feeling alone. And when I saw her for the first time, I said you know what? I’m gonna take a chance, I’m gonna ask her.

Rosalia: And I said no. I said, no, but then later on …okay, you can continue...

Louis: …but later on I decided, yeah well, I’m not gonna let that NO stop me, and I waited a week, I think, and I asked again, and she said yes. [...]

Recurring Themes – How It Feels

Many diseases and infections affect a specific part of the body, but HIV lives in the immune system and therefore ultimately impacts the whole body. While health care providers are trained to be experts in highly focused areas within the mental and physical health fields, they need to be sensitive to how the lines between their specialties can blur and work closely with other providers to maximize benefits for patients. Coordinating care is critical, as many medications can become dangerous or ineffective when combined. Side effects for medicines addressing physical ailments can include mental health issues like depression, and medications addressing mental health conditions such as depression may include physical symptoms like nausea or fluctuations in weight. [...]

Larry Transcript

I wanted to do something that made a difference, and that’s why I took the job for Mayor Daley as his representative to the gay & lesbian community. A spokesman for one of the radical groups said I was too old to represent gays and lesbians. You have this ageism in the community -- it’s so youth-oriented, you don’t feel welcome. As if you turn 40 and you turn straight or something. I can assure you that didn’t happen. [...]

Recurring Themes – Sex & Dating

We may not talk about it or see it on movie screens, but sex and romance continue to play an important role in many people’s lives as they age. Some who have lost a long-term romantic partner are starting new intimate relationships for the first time since the HIV epidemic began. And some older adults have multiple partners or may be involved with someone who is not monogamous.

Why This Project/Why Now

Black or white, gay or straight, the face that most Americans imagine when they think about HIV/AIDS isn’t particularly wrinkled. Yet approximately one quarter of the people living with HIV in 2005 were 50 or older, and studies project that by 2015 more than half of all people living with … Read More…

Carnetta Transcript

I would like to say that it’s not the end. There was a time when somebody said you had HIV, you felt like you were doomed. But they have come so far in our society with this disease that people are living much longer. I tell you, I couldn’t feel better. I’m 60, and I’ve had it since ’91. [...]

Ronald Transcript

Certainly, since the advent of protease inhibitors and the real progress in antiretroviral medication, the ability to treat HIV infection and slow down the progression to serious illness and death is very real. However, the disparity in being able to reap the benefits to the treatment advances is also very real in the United States, and certainly when one looks at the global epidemic. Health care is still very much a privilege and not a right, so a person’s socio-economic status affects the degree to which he or she has access to the medications. There are racial disparities in health care which make the ability to take advantage of the medications an issue of race. So, the disparities that we have in our society continue to play out in the AIDS epidemic. [...]

Advisory Panel

Heather Altman, MPH (Chapel Hill, NC) has been working with Carol Woods Retirement Community since 2003, and is currently the Project Director of Community Connections for Seniors, a 3-year grant funded by The Duke Endowment to implement initiatives at both the North Carolina state and local levels addressing service … Read More…

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.… Read More…



Short for “acquired immune deficiency syndrome,” the life-threatening stage of HIV infection. A medical diagnosis for people whose immune systems are so damaged that either (a) their CD4 count drops below 200, or (b) they develop one or more opportunistic infections or cancers known as AIDS-Defining Conditions (ADCs).

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HIV/AIDS in the US

The history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic can be broken down into the periods before and after 1996, when modern HIV treatment, known as “highly active antiretroviral therapy,” first came into widespread use. Many of the individuals profiled in The Graying of AIDS were diagnosed as HIV-positive before effective combinations of … Read More…