Ask the Advocate: Issues that Impact Long-term Survivors
Long-term survivors of the HIV epidemic face unique challenges as they age with HIV. So we asked community advocates for H-I-V.net: In your opinion, what are some issues that are impacting long-term survivors (LTS) of HIV/AIDS? Here are their responses!
Issues that impact long-term survivors
"It’s amazing that the issues impacting Long-term Survivors is being discussed and recognized more now. We weren’t supposed to live this long, so aging with HIV is a challenge that I believe needs more attention and shouldn’t be looked at as a whole but by gender, race, and treatment consumption. It is already known that women age differently than men. It is known that women experience various hormonal changes through their aging. It needs to be studied how HIV impacts an individual in those various stages. Also recognizing PLHIV that are vertical transmissions as Long-Term Survivors; it’s a specific population constantly overlooked in the LTS category and it does a disservice to not hear their experiences, elevate their voices, and learn what it’s like to live with HIV literally your entire life and what impact that has taken on their body." - Kamaria
"In my opinion there are several issues that are impacting long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS. There has not yet been any research conducted on the long-term effects of medications on the bodies of long-term survivors. As someone who has been living with HIV/AIDS for 31 years, I would love to know how treatment is having an impact on organs. I also believe there are mental and emotional scars that long-term survivors are dealing with from experiencing the death of friends and community members at large. That kind of trauma has not been addressed on a holistic level. Lastly, I would say that many long-term survivors are impacted by social isolation brought on by the loss of friends from the epidemic. This isolation can have a number of negative outcomes which can lead to negative health outcomes."- Khafre
Are you a Long-Term Survivor?
"As a long term survivor myself living 19 years with HIV, we need to first acknowledge that young adults are also long term survivors and not just the aging population. We may have different challenges and issues, but we are all in the same fight. Some issues I can see is the long term side effects of the medication and how there is not much data or research on this information. Because of the advances in medicine, HIV positive people are living longer and healthier lives. It has also been proven scientifically that an HIV positive person organs age 10 years in advance of their current age. So not only am I living longer, but my insides are 10 years my senior. So what does this mean? There's not enough HIV providers that specialize in long-term HIV survivors' care. Also, not many resources for long term HIV survivors are available which causes huge issues and problems." - Jahlove
"There are some issues for long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS that the current generation of HIV positive individuals do not face. The long-term survivors have some mental obstacles from being submitted to a harsher world view on those who were HIV positive. This can lead to a higher occurrence of depression. These individuals were also subjected to first and less-perfected antiviral medications. These medications presented the worst side effects and can complicate modern treatments. It also seems as though this group is ignored by the current advocacy efforts and media presentations. This can also add to depression since they may feel ignored or forgotten." - Heather
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?