APLA Health Announces Statewide Strategic Planning Meeting to Address Urgent Needs of People Aging with HIV
Director of Communications
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For Immediate Release
September 18, 2019— Today is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, and currently, the majority of people living with HIV are over the age of 50. To address these challenges, APLA Health is convening a high level planning meeting with notable California government planners, service and advocacy organizations, and community stakeholders. The purpose of is to develop the framework and objectives for two California institutes for HIV and aging. The Institutes will take place in Northern and Southern California in 2020.
By 2030, people over the age of 50 will account for 80 percent of the population living with HIV. The hope is that these individuals will thrive, but today, there are daunting medical and social challenges. The planning meeting will develop clinical, policy, and advocacy recommendations towards establishing best practices that will improve the health and wellness of people over 50 living with HIV.
“The success of drug treatments means people with HIV are living longer and more productive lives. The number of people aging with HIV is expanding at an unprecedented rate; however the planning, policy, and medical care for this population are failing to keep pace.” said to APLA Health Chief Executive Officer Craig E. Thompson. “APLA Health is taking the steps needed to address the challenges faced by those aging with HIV and work with government and community stakeholders throughout California to raise awareness and develop sustainable solutions to serve this growing population.”
Today’s planning meeting will bring together a variety of experts from clinical research, program implementation, housing and food security, and aging policy. The attendees have expertise working throughout California in both metropolitan and rural communities.
The institutes will develop policy, clinical, advocacy and best practices to improve the health and wellness of people over 50 living with HIV. The majority of persons living with HIV in California are now over the age of 50.
“This is a growing national issue and I’m excited to bring expertise and lessons learned from other jurisdictions in the United States to a California setting,” said Alex Vance, senior policy manager at AIDS United. “California continues to lead the nation on issues affecting people living with HIV and APLA Health continues to be at the vanguard of community activism and clinical care.”
“People aging with HIV experience a unique set of challenges. Many have lost finances and entire networks of social support. They continue to face discrimination on multiple levels and the possibility of rollbacks of federal protections by the current administration poses an additional risk,” added Aaron Tax, the director of advocacy for SAGE, a national organization that advocates for LGBT elders. “I’m excited to participate in this planning meeting and look forward to collaborating with experts from UCLA, the California Office of AIDS, community stakeholders, and others.”
“APLA Health is taking a leadership role in the right direction. This initial step will add much needed momentum to address the unmet needs of this population,” said Amber Christ, directing attorney for Justice in Aging “We’re excited to provide our policy and legal expertise on HIV and aging to this collaborative effort.”
“Many people over 50 living with HIV are long term survivors of the AIDS epidemic. They have lost friends and entire communities and continue to experience alarming levels of stigma. Our ultimate goal is to address their needs and provide tools and support for these tenacious survivors” said Monique Tula, Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a national organization based in Oakland.
For more than 35 years, APLA Health has spearheaded projects aimed at reducing disease burden in communities and raising awareness of issues that impact people living with HIV. This visionary project is supported through funding from the Gilead HIV Age Positively Initiative sponsored by Gilead Science. With this generous support, APLA Health will continue advocating for at-risk communities and promote policies that will allow those aging with HIV to thrive.