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The Need to Address the Graying of AIDS

November 28, 2011

"I only take one pill a day for my HIV, the rest are for all of my aging issues. And it's great that I've lived to be able to take aging issue drugs! It's a blessing..."
-- Bill Rydwels, age 77. Chicago, IL

"The guy that I was so madly in love with had tested positive for HIV. And I said: "Why didn't you tell me?" He says, "I'm sixty-eight years old, I 've never worn a condom in my life, and I'm not gonna start now."
-- Sue Saunders, age 73. Fort Lauderdale, FL

"People just don't know. They think it's gone. My generation used condoms as a means of contraceptive, not to prevent disease. We are of a generation where that was not something we have to think about."
-- Anna Fowlkes, age 64. Baltimore, MD

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By 2015 over half of all people living with HIV in the US will be over 50. With few exceptions, AIDS education materials rarely prioritize the unique experiences and concerns of older adults; similarly, care provider training programs rarely address the aging of the epidemic.

The Graying of AIDS is working to address these gaps. We are creating a web-based educational campaign based on older adults' experiences living with HIV. Documentary photography portraits, oral histories and videos are situated in a larger public health context on the project's web site: www.grayingofaids.org.

The personal narratives featured in The Graying of AIDS explore how the challenges and indignities that can come with aging in America can be compounded by living with HIV, and honor the extraordinary strength and resilience many older adults exhibit as they confront these challenges. The project is ongoing, with additional portraits and special features under development. On-line resource links, an "anecdotal bibliography" of multi-disciplinary artists responding to aging and HIV, and other training materials are targeting a range of audiences and can be used as educational tools in classrooms, community spaces, and health care/social service environments.

Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, AIDS specialists are increasingly aware of the "graying" of the epidemic, but geriatric providers and allied health professionals are still largely unaware of what this demographic shift means for their patients, and many older adults don't have access to the information and care they need to stay healthy. Using the emotional impact of documentary storytelling to reach out - through partnering community-based organizations and classrooms, retirement communities and professional organizations - we hope to help change that.

View a trailer of The Graying of AIDS below:

Katja Heinemann is a visual journalist and the Project Director of The Graying of AIDS; Naomi Schegloff, MPH, is a health educator and the writer and Co-Director of the project.

To learn more about The Graying of AIDS, please visit our website. To explore how other organizations are addressing HIV and aging, check out the critically important work of ACRIA, and see the piece by ACRIA's Director of the HIV Health Literacy Program, Luis Scaccabarrozzi for The Body.


Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.


This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 
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