september 18 marks 2nd annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) (031)

NHAAAD Logo-400National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day: September 18, 2009

Washington, DC – September 18, 2009 marks the 2nd annual national awareness initiative of The AIDS Institute titled National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD). This national campaign highlights the complex issues related to HIV prevention, care and treatment for aging populations in the United States. It is the goal of the campaign to highlight challenges such as the need for prevention, research, data and medical understanding of the aging process and the impact of HIV/AIDS. There are important groups that will be highlighted in this work:

(1) the growing number of people living with HIV and AIDS who are aging with the disease or are already over 50 at the time of diagnosis; (2) the increasing percentage of our population that needs to protect itself from HIV infection, including the growing baby boomer population; and (3) the increasing numbers of grandparents becoming the primary custodial parent for children who have lost their parent(s) to HIV/AIDS

These groups have a long list of unique challenges and issues and it is the hope of this campaign to bring all of those to light. The AIDS Institute will be working closely with other national partners and community organizations to hold awareness events and activities that promote understanding, awareness and action.

NHAAAD TOOL KIT TO DOWNLOAD

2009 Press Release

Letter to Community Partners

NHAAAD Brochure

NHAAAD Fact Sheet

Resources About Older Adults and HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS and Older Adults – 5 States At A Glance

NHAAAD Sample Media Advisory WORD DOC

NHAAAD Sample Press Release WORD DOC

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day is sponsored by The AIDS Institute. The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit and nonpartisan public policy research, advocacy, and education organization with offices in Washington, DC and Tampa, Florida. Begun as a grass roots community mobilization effort in the late 1980s, The AIDS Institute’s mission is to promote action for social change through public policy research, advocacy, and education.


HIV/AIDS AND OLDER ADULTS

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) affects everyone and does not discriminate based on gender, race, ethnicity, where one lives, and of course, age.

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported persons aged 50 and older accounted for approximately:

  • 10% of new HIV diagnoses
  • 24% of persons living with HIV
  • 33% of persons living with AIDS
  • 19% of all AIDS diagnoses [1]

Despite the documented cases, there are still older adults who are not aware of their HIV/AIDS status. This may be due to the following reasons:

  • Doctors do not always test older people for HIV/AIDS and may miss cases during routine checkups.
  • Doctors and their patients who are 50 years and older may mistake signs of HIV/AIDS for the aches and pains of normal aging.
  • Older adults are less likely than younger people to get tested.
  • Older adults know less about HIV/AIDS than younger people and may not know how it spreads or the importance of using condoms, not sharing needles, and getting tested for HIV.
  • Doctors may not ask older patients about their sex lives or drug use or talk to them about risky behaviors.

When someone knows he/she has HIV/AIDS, it is imperative to know and understand that there can be serious mental health issues associated, like depression. Depression may be a major problem for older people who may not have a strong network of friends or family who can help. They are socially isolated by the stigma associated with AIDS. People who are 50 and older may also be coping with other diseases common to aging, like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. These older adults living with HIV/AIDS need support and understanding from their doctors, family and friends [1].

Each year, approximately 16-22 million people in the United States are tested for HIV. In addition to getting educated about the transmission of HIV/AIDS, getting tested for HIV is another way to reduce the number of people infected with HIV. People can get their blood tested for HIV from their healthcare provider. However, if someone does not have a healthcare provider, check your local listings for contact information to your health department, community organization or health center.

WHAT IS HIV AND AIDS AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that compromises or weakens the immune system. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A person who is HIV-positive can develop an opportunistic infection, which can develop into AIDS.
  • When the body becomes initially infected, antibodies against HIV begin to form between 6-12 weeks.
  • During the window period, flu-like symptoms can occur. Examples include fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes and glands.
  • Without treatment, HIV can develop to AIDS between 8-10 years after initial infection with HIV.
  • With treatment, symptoms may not present for 15 years or longer [2].

RISK FACTORS FOR HIV TRANSMISSION

  • You may be at increased risk for infection if you have:
  • Injected drugs or steroids, during which equipment (such as needles, syringes, cotton, water) and blood were shared with others.
  • Had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex (that is, sex without using condoms) with men who have sex with men, multiple partners, or anonymous partners.
  • Exchanged sex for drugs or money.
  • Been given a diagnosis of, or been treated for, hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as syphilis.
  • Received a blood transfusion or clotting factor during 1978–1985.
  • Had unprotected sex with someone who has any of the risk factors listed above.

FACTS ABOUT HIV/AIDS

You may have read or heard things that are not true about how you get HIV/AIDS. Here are the FACTS:

  • You cannot get HIV through casual contact such as shaking hands or hugging a person with HIV/AIDS.
  • You cannot get HIV from using a public telephone, drinking fountain, restroom, swimming pool, whirlpool, or hot tub.
  • You cannot get HIV from sharing a drink.
  • You cannot get HIV from being coughed or sneezed on by a person with HIV/AIDS.
  • You cannot get HIV from giving blood.
  • You cannot get HIV from a mosquito bite. [3]

PROTECT YOURSELF, GET TESTED

Test sites can be found on-line at www.hivtest.org

For more information about HIV/AIDS and Older Adults or to become involved with

The AIDS Institute’s National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day Campaign (September 18th),

Please contact Aging@TheAIDSInstitute.org

Works Cited

CDC: “Persons Aged 50 and Older”, February 2008, www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/over50/index.htm

Epigee: “HIV Symptoms”, 2009, www.epigee.org/health/hiv_symptoms.html

CDC: “Basic Statistics”, February 2009, www.aids.gov/basic/101/index.html

Locate an HIV or STD Test Site


Other Resources

www.aids.gov

www.hhs.gov/aidsawarenessdays


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