Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic is now in its third decade, infected and affected older adults in the U.S. continue to be ignored and isolated. People over age 50 are affected by HIV in numerous ways. People in their mid or later years may be infected with HIV. Ten percent of all AIDS cases are people age 50 and older, a quarter of these are over age 60. Older women appear to have higher incidence rates than older men, and people of color are especially at risk. HIV/AIDS affects families, both traditional and families of choice. Increasingly older adults care for relatives and friends infected with HIV. Many adults with HIV turn to older parents for help and care.
Often, grandparents are substitute parents for their grandchildren whose own parents are unable to care for their children due to HIV-related needs. Many of these are "AIDS orphans" and grandparents have stepped in to be full- or part-time care-givers for the children; middle-age and older adults with adult children may need emotional support.
Recognizing that no national mechanism to gather information about HIV issues for people above age 50 exists, the National Association on HIV Over Fifty, Inc. (NAHOF) was founded in 1995 in New York City. NAHOF was formed to provide advocacy, education, communication and support for HIV-positive older adults, their families and those who provide care or conduct research on their behalf.
- Advocacy. NAHOF advocates to include people in middle and later life in legislation and program directions. NAHOF addresses issues of ageism in the HIV community as well as the lack of commitment to address HIV issues in the aging service network. NAHOF seeks to address these concerns with policy makers and funders.
- Education. HIV prevention programs are needed that encourage middle-aged and older adults to take steps to protect themselves from HIV. People of middle to later years are also effective resources to teach others about HIV. Education must be culturally sensitive to different ethnic, racial and cultural groups and to people of differing sexual orientations.
- Communication. NAHOF is a forum to exchange information and share concerns and issues about HIV and the older adults. People aged 50 and older, along with their care and service providers, need accurate literature and educational programs, sensitive to varying educational and cultural backgrounds. NAHOF's communication network shares resources, exchanges information and participates in regional and national meetings.
- Support. People with HIV over age 50 need care services tailored to their dual needs as persons living with HIV in their middle or later years. We work toward non-discrimination in existing aging and HIV programs as well as specially tailored support services.
- Inclusion. HIV affects people of all ages, races and cultures. People over age 50 from communities of color must deal with oppression and racism in their own and larger communities, compounded by ageism and fear of HIV. NAHOF recognizes the need to reach out and provide access to all affected by HIV.
NAHOF membership is open to people infected by HIV and their health providers, caregivers, researchers, educators and advocates. NAHOF members receive up-to-date information about new developments relating to HIV and people over age 50, as new information emerges. NAHOF members conduct educational programs at regional and national meetings. NAHOF collaborates with national organizations to insure the needs of HIV-affected people over age 50 are addressed.
NAHOF's membership policy focuses on participation. All persons infected with HIV and older adults are encouraged to contribute what they can afford. NAHOF membership is not influenced by financial resources and everyone is welcome.
National Association of HIV Over Fifty, Inc., c/o Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care Services, Inc., 340 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Kansas 66103 or 2525 Main St., No. 502, Kansas City, Missouri 64108-2646. Call (816) 421-5263 or visit www.HIVoverfifty.org. Contact Jane Fowler by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you provide a resources for people over 50 and would like to have it listed in positive living, please call Fiona Kyck, Women's Services coordinator at (213) 201-1566 or send e-mail to fionak@APLA.org.
What About Us? HIV/AIDS and the Aging of the Population is the theme of the 4th National Conference on HIV/AIDS and Aging that will be held on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23 in greater Boston under the sponsorship of the National Association on HIV Over Fifty. Registration fees for the conference are $50 for NAHOF members and $100 for others (that sum includes a one-year membership in NAHOF). For information visit www.HIVoverfifty.org or call (617) 566-2283.