September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day—a day to call attention to the growing number of people living long and full lives with HIV and to aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.
More than 50% of people with HIV (PWH) in the United States are over the age of 50. World-wide, an estimated 3.6 million people 50+ years old are living with HIV. Unfortunately, many people see HIV/AIDS and aging as different issues to be addressed separately and without taking the other into account. As a result, our medical and social services systems are not well prepared to serve an aging community where HIV/AIDS is both an issue of long-term survivors and newly diagnosed age 50+ patients (17% of new HIV infections occur in adults over the age of 50).
National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day is a great time for everyone, but especially those of us over 50, to have conversations with partners, care providers, family members and friends about the importance of testing, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. If you are at risk of exposure to HIV and haven’t been tested recently, consider it. Also, consider discussing with your doctor the benefits of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce your risk of contracting HIV. If you are treating HIV, keep up with your treatments and regular care appointments.