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World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1st. Photo: Pixabay.

New series of stories about people living healthy with HIV was introduced

They are over 50 years of age and attest to leading full lives after diagnosis.

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On the occasion of World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1, Illinois HIV Care Connect, a statewide network that provides medical case management, health care, and support services for people living with HIV, presents the HIV and Aging Campaign to inspire those living with a positive diagnosis and point out that it is not a death sentence.

Michael Maginn, HIV prevention director of the Illinois Public Health Association, which manages Illinois HIV Care Connect with funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health, stated:

Each year, World AIDS Day is an opportune time to recognize the people who have benefitted from the outstanding strides the health care community has made in preventing and treating HIV.

About the HIV and Aging Campaign

The campaign emphasizes demonstrating survivors' ability to have fulfilling careers and personal relationships by taking medications and contributing to a strong supportive community.

Website content and social media posts outline steps older adults with HIV can take to increase their chances of living a normal life, as well as an HIV and aging quiz that offers an easy way to understand how to stay healthy while aging with HIV.

The Campaign on HIV and Aging is Illinois HIV Care Connect's ninth annual quality improvement initiative, following programs on HIV innovation in Illinois, such as HIV stigma, HIV among youth, the social determinants of health, treatment as HIV prevention, viral suppression, staying on HIV treatment, and HIV and mental health.

“We have survivors who have lived 35 years or more with HIV. They’ve done so by getting tested and diagnosed, taking their medications, staying in care, and making their HIV undetectable and untransmittable,” added Maginn. 

Target audiences

According to the organization's data, about 16,198 people over the age of 50 are living with HIV in Illinois, which represents 45% of all people living with the disease in the state.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the 2019 numbers can be found on the “Illinois Goes to Zero HIV” Dashboard.

Approximately 60% of Illinoisans over the age of 50 living with HIV are men who have sex with men, and the majority are people of color.

The Illinois HIV Care Connect web page, HIV and Aging, provides data on the HIV population age 50 and older in Illinois. In addition to data on new and recent diagnoses, the page includes information on the percentages of the population age 50 and older who have achieved virus suppression and who are participating in care, as well as progress toward improvements for “Illinois reaches zero HIV” aimed at people over 50 years of age.

“The relatively high percentage of persons living with HIV who are aged 50 or older is due to improvements in the effectiveness of treatment with HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART). Persons with HIV who are diagnosed early and who get and stay on ART can keep the virus suppressed and live long and healthy lives,” stresses Illinois HIV Care Connect.

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