As HIV Turns 30, Attention Turns to an Aging Epidemic

hiv ribbon( — Just two months before the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of HIV in the United States, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO )—a network of national aging organizations—released its official recommendations for the upcoming reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the country’s primary vehicle for delivering services to older people at the local level.

Addressing Needs of Older Americans Living with HIV

At the urging of SAGE, in partnership with several diverse aging and HIV organizations, the LCAO is promoting seven recommendations to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders in the provisions of the Older Americans Act, and a critically important recommendation to help address the needs of older people living with HIV.  LCAO is encouraging the federal government to address the service needs of “the growing number of older adults living with HIV and the related health disparities, discrimination and stigma.”

Why are these recommendations happening now? Our country is witnessing two major demographic shifts. First, as a large wave of Baby Boomers begins entering retirement age, we’re concurrently seeing larger and larger numbers of “out” LGBT older people. Second, thanks to the medical advances in HIV-related treatment, many people who have HIV/AIDS are living longer lives—and, thus, the “graying” of HIV in this country.

Today, approximately 28% of people living with HIV in the U.S. are over 50. By 2017 that number is projected to grow to 50%. In addition, it is estimated that 15% of all new HIV infections occur in people over 50. And the available data clearly documents that the AIDS epidemic has disproportionately affected men who have sex with men, gay and bisexual men, people of color and transgender people—of all ages, including elders. More than 1,000 diagnoses of HIV infection were reported among MSM age 55 and older each year from 2006-2009, according to CDC data (PDF 260KB).