A transformational gift from David Boger and his brother Joshua Boger will allow GMHC to expand its services for older adults and long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS. With the new investment totaling $500,000 over five years, the program will be renamed the Terry Brenneis and David Boger Hub for Long-Term Survivors.
“We are immensely grateful for David and Josh Boger’s commitment to our work with older adults and long-term survivors (LTS) of HIV/AIDS,” said GMHC’s CEO Kelsey Louie. “GMHC pioneered a nationally recognized model for addressing the distinct needs of these communities, many of whom lived through the worst years of the epidemic. This gift will allow us to expand our services and help other communities across the country start similar programs.”
People ages 50 years and older are the largest and fastest growing demographic of people living with HIV. This group represents 64 percent of GMHC clients. LTS represent 37 percent of GMHC’s clients who are 50 years and older. By 2025, people ages 50 years and older are expected to comprise 60 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS in New York City.
People aging with HIV experience higher rates of comorbidities and earlier onset of diseases and conditions associated with aging including cancer, heart disease, and frailty. Some LTS also experience AIDS Survivor Syndrome, a term created by activist Tez Anderson that describes the mental and emotional impacts of living through the significant losses that occurred during the early years the AIDS epidemic.
Research has also found that older adults with HIV also experience higher rates of mental health conditions and symptoms including depression, loneliness, and isolation. A 2020 survey of 137 older adults with HIV/AIDS in New York City conducted by GMHC and the University of Southern California found that 75 percent reported living alone and indicated that they felt more isolated compared to a time before the pandemic.
To address the growing needs of these communities, GMHC launched the Terry Brenneis Hub for Long-Term Survivors in 2018 with an initial investment by David Boger to honor his late partner. The Hub comprises a constellation of programs to address the psychosocial needs of older adults and LTS. They include the Buddy Program that provides one-on-one practical and emotional support and was brought back to GMHC in 2015 due to the advocacy of Sean McKenna; support groups and individual counseling; and workshops such as the “I’m Still Here” webinar series that focuses on mitigating the challenges of AIDS Survivor Syndrome. In addition, GMHC leads a research program to understand the issues associated with HIV and aging and disseminates findings through the National Resource Center on HIV & Aging (agingHIV.org).
“My brother and I are thrilled to be able to provide GMHC with this new support to meet the growing needs of older adults and LTS,” said David Boger, a retired New York City psychiatrist. “As a long-term survivor myself, I understand firsthand the challenges facing my community. The Hub will provide the intensive support that LTS and older adults need for building resilience and strengthening well-being.”
Boger lauded the Hub for its particular focus on addressing mental health issues facing LTS that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Hub’s services are needed now more than ever,” said David Boger. “Many of us have been isolated due to COVID-19. I’m hopeful that this new funding will attract additional investments and allow GMHC to bring its services to more LTS and older adults in New York City and around the country.”
To learn more about the Hub and giving opportunities, view this short video at gmhc.org/hub.
Photo caption: Gregg Bruckno (left), assistant director of the Brenneis-Boger Hub for Long-term Survivors, and GMHC donor David Boger (right).