When Americans think about HIV, the face they imagine isn’t that of a person who has lived over half a century and beyond. Yet, in 2009, people aged 50 and older accounted for 17% of new HIV diagnoses in 40 states with long-term confidential name-based reporting. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States.
Today, more than ever, HIV prevention and treatment are important issues to older Americans. September 18, 2011 marks the 4th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day . This special day provides us all with the opportunity to focus on the many challenges related to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment facing our aging population.
“Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be,” the theme for this year’s National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, reminds us that there is more we can do to make older Americans aware of HIV prevention and testing.
Medicare now covers HIV screening for people with Medicare of any age who ask for the test. Aging services providers and HIV care providers must work together to educate older Americans about the testing and prevention of HIV as well as to ensure that the special needs of the older men and women living with HIV can be effectively addressed in a collaborative fashion. The Administration on Aging has a webpage dedicated to Older Adults and HIV; next month we will be releasing an HIV and aging educational toolkit and video.
Please join the Administration on Aging, and our network of community-based aging services providers, in recognizing National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. Throughout the year, help spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of HIV prevention, testing and treatment for older adults. A few suggestions include: organize a public forum or town hall meeting to discuss the impact of HIV/AIDS in the senior community; ask your community leaders to issue a proclamation recognizing the Awareness Day; request radio stations to air public service announcements; and encourage leaders in the community to participate in local, regional, or national events on or around NHAAAD.