In the United States in the 1980s, to be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS was to be given a death sentence. Thirty years later, however, that’s no longer the case. Highly effective anti-viral drugs can keep HIV dormant for decades, allowing people with the virus to live long and full lives.
But because half of those living with HIV in the United States will be over the age of 50 by 2015, the country is now entering unchartered territory: How can we assist a growing elderly population with HIV?
Fordham’s Be the Evidence Project (BTEP), of the Graduate School of Social Service, will host a daylong conference bringing together researchers, practitioners, and advocates to shed light on this unprecedented challenge.
“Aging Well with HIV: Challenges and Opportunities”
Monday, March 25
12th-floor Lounge/Corrigan Conference Center
Lincoln Center Campus
“Aging well with HIV is an innovation,” said Tina Maschi, Ph.D., founder and executive director of BTEP. “With new anti-virals, people can live into older age with this chronic illness. So the healthcare field is grappling with how we manage a population that used to be dying off at earlier ages.”
Besides dealing with the typical trials that come with aging, older adults who are HIV positive often grapple with depression and substance abuse as well, which are further exacerbated by the stigma of the disease, ageism, racism, poverty, and social isolation.
“[It’s important to] assess for these comorbid issues,” Maschi said. “It’s not just treating the physical body and physical symptoms that promote longevity—it’s also about the social-emotional-spiritual component that makes a difference in longevity.”
Students and participants will have the opportunity to meet local leaders in the field, including speakers Richard Havlik, M.D., former chief of epidemiology at the National Institutes on Aging, and Perry Halkitis, Ph.D., associate dean for research and doctoral studies at the New York University Steinhardt School.
In addition, the conference will debunk the myth that only young people contract the virus—a dangerous misconception that keeps older individuals from being tested and treated.
“People are living longer in general, and are contracting the virus later in life,” Maschi said. “This is all uncharted territory. There is so much more to learn.”
The event is co-sponsored by the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America and Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education.
For more information, contact the Be the Evidence Project.