a woman and a man with visible organs like intestines, bones, and hearts.

The Needs of Long-Term Survivors

There are some who may not see me as an HIV long-term survivor when, in fact, that is what I am at a glorious 51 years of age.

Long-term survivors can be born with HIV and in their 30s or be someone like myself and others who have lived damn near half their lives or longer with HIV/AIDS.

Concerns about HIV and other chronic conditions

As I age with HIV, I have concerns about other chronic conditions that may arise once you start becoming of age; some of these conditions usually start to hit by age 40 and up.

There’s hypertension (high blood pressure), bronchitis, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, dementia and so much more on this list of conditions. What about bone density and other things that come from taking HIV meds for so many years?

Today, I deal with at least 3 of these conditions and now I am required to take even more medication on top of my two-pill regimen to control my HIV.

The toll on our mental health

The stressors of life and getting older with HIV can put a toll on someone mentally, causing anxiety and depression in long-term survivors. Then there is loneliness attached to getting older it is a lot to handle all at once.

How can our needs be met within the HIV/AIDS spectrum of this so-called lovely world we live in, are we even thought of as HIV changes day to day and year to year?

Mental health and aging with HIV

Our mental health is important and, if this need is not met, can we survive growing old with HIV?

Who is it that we can turn to or reach out to hear us? I know I cannot be the only one out here worried about aging with HIV. There has to be funding out there and some of it should be used to help people who are living with HIV deal with mental health.

We all want to live a long life with HIV, but having other conditions stacked on our shoulders along with mental health causes this sadness, especially when myself and other LTS did not expect to be here this long.

The advocacy of other long-term survivors

We are all happy to be here for so long and some are still fighting for changes to be made.

"How long does this take," is my question. Are we fighting a dead house? But every day, we go on with advocacy; if we didn't, nothing will ever change.

I see long-term survivors like Tez Anderson, Bryan Jones, Murray Penner, Waheedah Shabazz, and Tammy Kinney that keep me going, who never gave up. And I say if they are pushing, then so can I.

We will keep fighting

Meeting our needs is all we ask; it is as easy as 1+1. It feels like they want to hear the unmet needs and then ignore what we say it is.

FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT until the fight is over. There is nothing else to do.

And to everyone else: please remember that one day, you will be aging with HIV. Help us get these unmet needs taken care of so that you can have them when you are at a golden age.

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