Tomorrow, September 18, 2010, marks the 3rd annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. This special day provides us all with the opportunity to focus on the many challenges related to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment facing our aging population. “Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be,” the theme for this years National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, reminds us that there is more we can do to make older Americans aware of HIV prevention and testing. With 15% of all new HIV/AIDS cases occurring among people aged 50 and older, it’s clear that we can and must do more to inform individuals and service providers about the importance of educating older Americans.
Increased prevention is one element of the call-to-action the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day provides, but we must also focus on treatment and care. Research indicates that by 2015, half of the people living with HIV in the U.S. will be over age 50. As people live longer with HIV, we must continue to learn more about how to manage the long-term effects of HIV and how this intersects with the aging process and other common health conditions. Aging services providers and HIV care providers must work together to ensure that the special needs of these men and women can be effectively addressed in an integrated and collaborative fashion.
Please join the Administration on Aging and our network of community-based aging services providers in heeding the call-to-action of the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day and join us in raising awareness across the country of the prevention, testing and treatment needs of our aging population.
Kathy Greenlee is the Assistant Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services