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Aging and Transparency: The Strength in Sharing the Story of Struggle

Both living with HIV and aging over time is something that I and many others go through. I was young when I was diagnosed with HIV and, the older that I get, the more I start to think about how aging with HIV may affect my body and overall health.

One awareness day that I did not ever recognize was National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. I think back a few years ago how immature I was to not recognize this day. National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day or NHAAD was created to raise awareness of the challenges those aging with HIV may face.

Some of these challenges include treatment and care, comorbidities, and complications related to co-infections.

Thinking about HIV and aging

The reason I started to think about HIV and aging is because of the clients I was seeing at work.

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The priority population that I usually work with are men who have sex with men between the ages of 18 and 34. We recently collaborated with our senior services department to host a weekly meeting called the Aging Mastery Program, which brought in older adults living with HIV. I was able to provide our space for this group to hold the program, but it also intrigued me to be a part of the group to listen and learn from the attendees.

I am proud to say that I learned so much about what it really meant to grow up living with HIV. It made me think of how fortunate I was to be living in a time where they have medications that worked to lower your viral level compared to during their time.

This or That

Are you happy with your current HIV treatment?

When I was diagnosed with HIV, the doctor was able to quickly get me on medication, and help me achieve an undetectable viral level. The group helped me realize that this was not the story for many people including some of them.

Reflecting on one long-term survivors story

One story that really resonated with me was from an individual who expressed that they lost one of their best friends to HIV/AIDS complications. During the time of their friends passing they personally were not yet living with HIV, and did not know how to comfort their friend in their last days.

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It made me think of how many friends that I have who are currently living with HIV and how disheartening it would be if I lost any of them due to their diagnosis.

Putting HIV and aging into perspective

I hope to continue offering this group a space at my worksite to continue learning from them. All of them really put HIV and aging into perspective for me; making me realize how fortunate I am to live in a time where there are so many advances in medicine and technology.

They have gone through so much over the years, and have some amazing stories for those who are willing to take the time to listen. Just like me, they are all in the fight to end the HIV epidemic. Their transparency and power is what motivates me to continue the work that I enjoy to do each and every day.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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