SAGE Amplifies the Intersection of Aging and HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day

SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, is commemorating World AIDS Day by elevating the experiencing older people living with HIV and remembering those that the community has lost to AIDS.

With national initiatives like the HIV/Aging Policy Action Coalition (HAPAC) and local services like SAGEPositive program in NYC, SAGE works to amplify the voices and address the needs of long-term survivors and older people living with HIV.

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacts communities of color, are all too familiar to LGBTQ+ older people. Many of the older LGBTQ+ people who lived through the AIDS epidemic 40 years ago are facing similar challenges today, such as people of color bearing the heaviest burden of COVID-19 at every stage, from the risk of exposure to access to testing and care to the severity of the illness and eventually death.

Many older people living with HIV did not expect to grow old. Similarly, the aging network and HIV and LGBTQ+-focused providers are not equipped to serve or address the unique needs of an older, HIV+ population. More than 50 percent of people living with HIV in the U.S. are aged 50 and older. SAGE is educating and engaging policymakers at both the state and federal level, encouraging them to enact policies and fund programs in support of long-term survivors and older people living with HIV.

“In observance of World AIDS Day, SAGE’s work both highlights the resilience and addresses the needs of older people living with the virus, particularly LGBTQ+ people of color and Black trans women, who are among the groups that experience the highest rates of HIV,” says Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE. “SAGE honors the resiliency of these communities by continuing to push for policies, programs and solutions that result in a better world for long-term survivors and all older people living with HIV.”

“At 48 years of age, and having tested positive at 27, I near a phase in my life where HIV has been a part of my experience for nearly half of my life,” says SAGE HAPAC Member Tim’m T. West. “When I tested positive, I never imagined growing older. Now, I’m committed to working with HAPAC to ensure that our discussions about HIV treatment and care imagine a future where, as a Black queer man, I’m thriving at age 60, 70, and beyond.”

This article was originally published in the  Edge Media Network on December 1, 202o