Long-Term Survivors to Lead Discussion at Community Forum

Matt Sharp

A community forum called “A Resilient Generation Looks Ahead” will be taking place in San Francisco, which will explore issues facing long-term survivors, including available resources and a new study of psilocybin-assisted group therapy. 

Forum organizer and long-term survivor himself, Matt Sharp, recently spoke to the Bay Area Reporter, stating: "When I first heard that there was research planned for long-term survivors, I realized our community has come a long way since we began to mobilize four short years ago. [Long-term survivors] are the definition of resilience, and we should come together to celebrate our accomplishments and continue our work into the future.” 

According to the 2015 HIV Epidemiology Annual Report, provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, nearly 16,000 people in the city are living with HIV or AIDS — 60 percent of those people are over 50.

San Francisco itself accounts for one of the largest HIV-positive populations in the country.

Gay and bisexual men represent 82 percent of new HIV cases every year, and 25 percent of those new cases are not in care. HIV-positive people over 50 are at a higher risk of co-morbidities that come with age, like cardiovascular disease, bone less, and cognitive decline. 

Joining Sharp at the forum will be Dr. Meredith Greene, who will talk on the Golden Compass program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s Ward 86, which tends to older people living with HIV; Dr. Brian Anderson of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, who will “discuss the Psilocybin for AIDS Survivors Study, a clinical trial looking at whether the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” can facilitate group therapy for long-term survivors,” reports the Bay Area Reporter. 

“PASS will assess the safety, feasibility, and preliminary efficacy of combining group psychotherapy with psilocybin to treat hopelessness, a lack of meaning in life, and prolonged grief in gay-identified men who are long-term AIDS survivors," Anderson said. “Based on the promising results of recent clinical trials of individual psychotherapy combined with psilocybin to treat depression and anxiety in patients with cancer, we think that when psilocybin is administered in a controlled clinical setting it can act as a psychotherapy catalyst, making talk therapy more effective and more fast-acting."

Other speakers include Rebecca Erenrich from ACRIA, who will discuss research about older people living HIV; PrEP researcher Dr. Robert Grant; National AIDS Memorial Grove board chair Mike Shriver; and District 8 supervisor Jeff Sheehy. 

Be sure to attend A Resilient Generation Looks Ahead: A Community Forum for Long-Term Survivors of HIV and their Allies on July 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at UCSF HSW-300 Auditorium, 513 Parnassus Avenue in San Francisco.

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