April 16, 2015
By Megan Threats, Mark Strandquist and Courtney Bowles
At the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, people who were diagnosed were expected to live only one to two years after diagnosis. Today, life expectancy for people living with HIV/AIDS has increased tremendously, due in large part to new medications and treatments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people 55 and older accounted for almost one-fifth of the estimated 1.1-million people living with HIV infection in the United States in 2010. With the increase in life expectancy for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, there has been a focus on addressing issues related to aging with HIV.
To transform narratives around these issues, the LGBT Elder Initiative is hosting the exciting event, “Still Here: Defiant Aging and HIV” May 23 at the John C. Anderson Apartments, 251 S. 13th St. The event will bring artists, activists, friends and neighbors together for a day of art, storytelling and transformation. Throughout the event, we will take outdated HIV medical materials from the AIDS Library, tear them up, turn them into new, beautiful blank sheets of paper and embed those sheets with community histories of survival, resilience and defied expectations. Transforming outdated medical materials into blank sheets of paper will create a powerful platform for the individuals most impacted by these issues to author their own histories. Each handmade sheet of paper will be sewn together and turned into a beautiful, hand-crafted book that will become part of the AIDS Library’s permanent collection for future patrons to read.
Please find some answers to frequently asked questions about aging with AIDS:
Aging and sexual risk
Q: Do older people living in the United States have the same risk factors for HIV infection as younger people?
A: Yes. Inconsistent condom use, multiple partners and lack of knowledge about HIV and how to prevent transmission are a few of the shared risk factors among older and younger people.
Q: Are women who have gone through menopause still at risk?
A: Yes. Age-related thinning and dryness of vaginal tissue may raise older women’s risk for HIV infection. Women who are no longer able to get pregnant may be less likely to use a condom and to practice safer sex.