TPAN and The Reunion Project Collaborate on “Positively Aging”
Addressing the needs of older individuals living with HIV
TPAN has joined with The Reunion Project, a national collective of long-term survivors of HIV, to create Positively Aging, a collaboration designed to address the needs of older adults (50 and older) who live with HIV. Positively Aging will innovate the delivery of direct services in Chicago by TPAN to older persons living with HIV, engage aging persons living with HIV through an expansion of The Reunion Project’s national peer-driven support network, and disseminate educational resources to a national audience through TPAN’s magazine, Positively Aware.
Positively Aging is made possible through a multi-year grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc.
In Chicago, TPAN will implement Positively Aging through the delivery of services tailored to the needs of older adults. Comprehensive mental health services and case management will be integrated with access to on-site primary medical care (provided by TPAN’s existing on-site collaborator, Howard Brown Health). In addition, the program will incorporate group social activities to address the isolation known to impede access to care for older adults. “The stigma, isolation, and complex needs that our clients face are unique and warrant a program designed for those issues.” said Julie Supple, TPAN’s Director of Client Services. “TPAN is thrilled to expand the programs and services we can offer to older individuals within our community.”
Nationally, Positively Aging enables The Reunion Project to expand its outreach to and engagement with long-term survivors and other older individuals affected by HIV. In cities across the country, The Reunion Project will expand its schedule of local town halls to deliver important access to peer support and education. The Reunion Project will also expand its online and digital presence to further its reach. “The Reunion Project combats isolation by providing spaces for long-term survivors to come together and share our experiences of survival and resilience,” said National Steering Committee member Waheedah Shabazz-El. “Positively Aging will help us to build upon the successes of The Reunion Project over the last four years, while creating a national network of survivors.”
To maximize the impact of Positively Aging and to share its lessons and health information to the broadest possible audience, TPAN will disseminate resources and educational content through its nationally-circulated magazine, Positively Aware. “For almost 30 years, our magazine has delivered lifesaving treatment and wellness information to readers across the country,” said Jeff Berry, TPAN’s Director of Publications. “We are committed to providing our readers with cutting-edge information about how to navigate the unique health challenges associated with aging with HIV.”
With rapid improvements in treatment and longer life expectancy for both long-term survivors and newly diagnosed individuals, entire generations are aging well beyond 50 into unique HIV-related health and psychosocial needs. Today, nearly half of people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 and older.
Older adults living with HIV face issues distinct from those of their younger peers, including greater social isolation and loneliness. Stigma is a particular concern among older people with HIV. Known to adversely affect quality of life, self-image, and risk behaviors, stigma has also been long identified as a barrier to accessing care. Combined with known factors of aging—such as isolation, the experience of age discrimination, or mental health challenges—addressing HIV-related stigma is a critical factor to comprehensively serving older HIV-positive adults and helping them stay healthy and engaged in care.
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