“This is the first time in American history when nearly 50 percent of people living with HIV are over the age of 50,” Gilead Sciences recently noted in a press release announcing a $17.6 million HIV Age Positively initiative to help address the needs of long-term survivors and other older Americans living with HIV.
Specifically, the pharmaceutical company behind HIV-related medications such as Truvada is issuing grants to 30 health care or advocacy organizations to address three interwoven goals: helping providers better serve older people with HIV, offering resources and services necessary to health and wellness (including adjacent resources like meal delivery services) for elders, and advocating for policy and government funding to provide more services for those aging with HIV.
“Gilead understands science alone is not enough to help people lead longer, healthier lives,” noted Amy Flood, senior vice president of public affairs at Gilead, in a statement to the press. “That’s why we work together with advocates, health care providers, and community organizations to identify the unique challenges people aging with HIV experience and dedicate resources to maximize impact in communities across the country.”
Long-term survivors and other aging HIV-positive people are finding themselves facing unexpected needs — and having to rely on themselves and HIV organizations to meet a growing list of concerns.
“Anyone who lived through the 1980s and ’90s remembers the generation of Americans we lost to the HIV epidemic and the heroic work this community has done together to increase the life expectancy of people living with HIV,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, one of the organizations to receive funding from the initiative. “As they have in the past, Gilead brought experts together, listened to what our community needed, and identified the organizations best equipped to tackle specific problems. Funding from HIV Age Positively is going to help long-term survivors combat loneliness, obtain access to the resources and support they need, and create better, more personalized health care.”
Those receiving grants include large organizations like GMHC and the AIDS Institute; nationwide health care associations like The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care and Professional Association of Social Workers in HIV & AIDS; regional care providers like APLA Health & Wellness and San Francisco AIDS Foundation; and research centers like Hektoen Institute for Medical Research and the University of California, San Francisco.
The grants are also helping those providing meals (Project Open Hand) and offering legal services (Legal Aid Service of Broward County), and those specifically serving minority populations (American Indian Community House, Us Helping Us, My Brother’s Keeper), older queers (SAGE, New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders), and the formerly incarcerated (Center for Health Justice).
Here are a few specific projects funded by the Gilead initiative:
The AIDS Institute plans to launch the Institute for Policy, Education & Advocacy Resources for Aging Adults to serve as a clearinghouse of information and educational materials for and about those aging with HIV.
American Indian Community House’s Healthy Elders Network will identify ways of improving access to care for Native American elders living with HIV by identifying social determinants of health for this group, engage elders in developing strategies for increasing awareness of culturally competent HIV care needs, and facilitate data collection to guide future policy decisions.
The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care will partner with major gerontology nursing organizations and schools to train nurses across the U.S. on providing aging people living with HIV optimal care and care coordination.
Borrego Community Health Foundation, which runs 24-hour health clinics in Southern California, will implement a care program for older people living with HIV with co-occurring methamphetamine use disorder. Along with experts from University of California, Borrego will provide training to health care providers in the Palm Springs area in geriatric medicine and Getting Off, an evidence-based meth treatment program developed for gay and bisexual men.
Legal Aid Service of Broward County’s HIV Age Positively Legal Advocacy Program will provide direct legal services to HIV-positive seniors; develop training materials and provide training to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and shelters; and develop an HIV-positive seniors’ bill of rights and lobby for its adoption in Florida.