Monday, June 25th was an important day for Pennsylvania’s seniors. PA Secretary of Aging, Brian Duke, was in Philadelphia to hear community testimony about the PA draft State Plan on Aging 2012 – 2016. Secretary Duke heard testimony from consumers; advocates; representatives from area agencies on aging; and from a coalition of LGBT, Aging and HIV service providers and advocacy organizations. The coalition includes the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI); ActionAIDS; The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania; Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE); Mazzoni Center; Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC); and William Way LGBT Community Center.
The draft State Plan on Aging does not specifically address the needs of LGBT older Pennysylvanians, nor does it address HIV/AIDS, a public health issue that has been with us for over 30 years.
Representatives of each of the organizations in the coalition proposed steps for the State to take to begin to address the needs of these vulnerable and underserved communities:
- Add openly LGBT and HIV+ citizens to the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, the Cultural Diversity Advisory Council, and regional councils;
- Begin collecting inclusive demographic data at all points along the aging services spectrum about the members of these communities;
- Foster an atmosphere of inclusivity in all aging service settings through cultural competency and sensitivity training; and
- Raise awareness of HIV prevention methods and promote HIV testing among at-risk, older populations.
The testimony of the representatives of the coalition organizations can be read, in their entirety, at: www.lgbtei.org/p/testimony.html
Persons wishing to submit written comments on the plan must do so by Friday, June 29, 2012. Comments should be addressed to David Gingerich, Acting Deputy Secretary of Aging, 555 Walnut Street, 5th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101‐1919. Comments may also be submitted to RA‐StatePlanOnAging@state.pa.us