Evolving drug cocktails and treatment modes have changed HIV
from a certain death sentence into a long-term health care challenge. Here in Missouri, about half of the people living with the disease are older than 45.
"We're seeing, for the first time, this actively aging cohort [of people with HIV]," says Sherrill Wayland, executive director of SAGE Metro St. Louis
, a nonprofit that addressed the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as they age.
To help assess and address the needs of this emerging population, SAGE
is teaming with the New York-based AIDS Community Research Initiative of
to study aging HIV-positive folks in the St. Louis area and determine how to best serve them by implementing ACRIA's HIV and Aging Capacity Building Program.
"You're seeing people who've been living with HIV for 10, 20, 30 years,"
Wayland tells Daily RFT
. "How do we support our retirement and
home-care agencies that have not traditionally supported people with HIV
The program, which kicks off Friday, will be led by Hanna Tessema with
ACRIA. After Friday's assessment meeting, two two-day training sessions
will be scheduled, and one person who goes through the sessions will head
to New York for mentoring. Concerned community members, older people
living with HIV and health-care providers are welcome to attend the free
Another challenge the trainings will address is newly-infected older adults
. After all, most people
older than 40 or so weren't in school when the epidemic first started
grabbing the nation's attention, and didn't catch TLC's condom eye-patch
awesomeness. For that population, Wayland says, condoms were only for
preventing pregnancy -- not a concern for the nursing home set, generally.
"We've created this environment where we like to believe older adults are asexual," she says.
But they aren't.
"We're seeing older adults being newly diagnosed with HIV. How do we provide preventative education to older adults?" Wayland asks. "Are retirement communities providing education? Condoms?
There is a large-scale education that needs to take place for older
If you're interested in looking at these questions and helping find the
answers, RSVP for this training Friday by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday's meeting is from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tower Grove Manor
Retirement Apartments at 2710 South Grand Boulevard.