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GMHC Commemorates National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.

9.18.2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cub Barrett | 212-367-1561 | CubB@gmhc.org
Krishna Stone I 212-367-1016 I KrishnaS@gmhc.org

New York, NY (September 18, 2018)—This National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) calls on the public health community to focus more attention on the critical physical and mental issues faced by older adults living with or at risk of HIV infection. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people aged 50 and over account for an estimated 47% of Americans living with diagnosed HIV. In New York City, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 56% of people living with HIV are over the age of 50.

At GMHC, more than 40% of our 13,000 clients are aged 50 and over.

"The HIV epidemic is dominated by older adults aging with HIV,” said Stephen Karpiak, PhD, Senior Director for Research for the ACRIA Centers at GMHC. “These folks are experiencing significantly more illnesses associated with aging than is typical. This heavy burden of disease, including HIV, is challenging how we care for these older adults, many of whom are long-term survivors."

"While there is a growing awareness that there is a critical need for both more services for, and more research about, older adults living with and affected by HIV, our nation is not fully prepared for the medical and social implications of this growing population," Karpiak said.

Existing research on appropriate treatment is limited, and HIV and AIDS stigma are widespread among older communities. Moreover, the myth that older adults are not sexually active causes a serious barrier to prevention and care.

GMHC is working to better understand the unique needs of this population. Last year, GMHC entered into a strategic partnership with ACRIA, a leading HIV prevention and research organization that has been a pioneer in assessing the needs of older adults living with or at risk of HIV infection. Additionally, in June 2018, GMHC officially launched the Terry Brenneis Hub for Long-Term Survivors, a program designed to connect older clients with mental health, substance use, nutrition, wellness programming, and other GMHC services to help them lead healthier, fuller lives. ACRIA’s research studies will continue to inform these kinds of existing and future services.

"For 36 years, GMHC has been on the front lines of a changing HIV and AIDS epidemic, and we’ll continue to follow the data about our most vulnerable populations and how to best serve them,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. “We know that older people living with HIV and AIDS are presenting our community with a host of new challenges—and opportunities. We want to continue to be a place where these folks feel supported and where we can connect them with the appropriate care. At the same time, we’ll continue to work with our partners and supporters to educate them about what we have learned along the way."

 

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Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 13,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.