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Opinion

50+ and Fabulous!

May 28, 2014

Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

As a New Yorker who's written about HIV since 1994 and been HIV-positive since 2000, I remain ever grateful to -- and in awe of -- the activists who came before me and literally laid their bodies down in the streets for the treatments and benefits that keep us alive and well today. I have the immense privilege of barely having to think about my HIV, whereas others once declined and died from it before they hit 30 or 40. Many others who survived watched countless loved ones die. Suffice it to say, I am filled with immense gratitude.

But I've read with concern in recent years research showing that those of us with HIV -- even well-managed, undetectable HIV -- have a lot to be vigilant about as we age. And believe me, HIV-positive folks over 50 are big news right now. If you're among them, you should know that by 2015, you'll make up over half of all Americans with HIV. That means you'll be part of a group that's roughly half-a-million strong.

That's important, because aging with HIV comes with challenges. The disease and/or its medications accelerate a lot of the problems that normally come with aging, such as memory loss, bone problems, and heart disease. Add to that the mental and emotional issues that can accompany aging with HIV: financial instability, depression, anxiety, isolation, stigma, loneliness -- it can be rough going at times.

Let's keep agitating like our AIDS forebears did to make sure that everyone aging with HIV gets the best care and support they can.

Hence this special issue. Here, we'll not only give you the latest facts, we'll introduce you to older folks with HIV all over the country who've faced, or continue to face, these challenges with resilience, resourcefulness, and a good attitude.

You'll find a lot of practical knowledge here. Everything from knowing what to get screened for and how to eat healthy and delicious food on a budget, to getting exercise without joining a pricey gym and, perhaps most important, how to combat depression and isolation by reaching out for help. Or by helping others. You'd be surprised how much those two things are interrelated.

Resources for people with HIV vary widely throughout the country. Let's keep agitating like our AIDS forebears did to make sure that everyone aging with HIV gets the best care and support they can, whether they're in Massachusetts or Alabama.

But let's also do the things that we can do today, without any major systemic change, to prolong and improve our lives: quitting smoking, eating healthy food instead of junk, exercising, staying up to date on HIV treatment info, and being open to help, and to helping others.

We owe it to all those who fought hard so that we could be here reading this today. Let's honor them by taking care of ourselves, and one another, in 2014.

Tim Murphy has been living with HIV since 2000 and writing about HIV activism, science, and treatment since 1994. He writes for and has been a staffer at POZ, and also writes for the New York Times, New York magazine, Out magazine, The Advocate, Details, and many other publications. He is currently working on a big soapy novel with AIDS as a backdrop. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, Damien, a French illustrator and animator. He's also been inspired to eat an anti-inflammation diet after writing this issue.



This article was provided by Positively Aware. Visit Positively Aware's website to find out more about the publication.
 
See Also
More Personal Accounts of Older People With HIV/AIDS

 

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