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Long Beach HIV & Aging Summit to address unique challenges

Long Beach HIV & Aging Summit

More than 60% of people living with HIV in Long Beach are over 50, according to the latest city Health Department data.

“Our friends and clients are collectively living with the trauma of the early years of the HIV pandemic and are also dealing with the normal comorbidities of aging,” said Michael Buitron, program coordinator  with the HIV Program for Older Adults at APLA Health in Long Beach

“Add to this the increased isolation among an older LGBTQ community and HIV stigma, there’s quite a bit to unpack as we strive to age successfully with HIV,” he said.

To address these issues, the Long Beach HIV & Aging Summit will take place Saturday, coinciding with National HIV and Aging Awareness Day. The event will feature several speakers, including an appearance by West Hollywood’s Poet Laureate, Brian Sonia-Wallace.

The free event, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Billie Jean King Library, is focused on the needs of people over 50 and living with HIV, both men and women, but is open to friends, partners, allies, and service providers.

Registration for the Long Beach HIV & Aging Summit is required. Lunch is included.

Two decades ago, living to reach “old age” was not considered a likely prognosis for people with HIV. But with the tremendous success of better HIV drug therapies and support organizations people with the virus live longer.

But being 50+ and a long-term survivor of HIV comes additional challenges, according to SAGE.

  • They’re more likely to struggle with PTSD than other mental illnesses. 
  • They face isolation, with 70% of them living alone, and have little of declining contact with friends or family. 
  • Long-term HIV survivors are often financially unstable due to lifetimes of discrimination and often racism, and, not expecting to live long, so forgoing future planning.

The event is organized by APLA Health, the CARE Center at St. Mary Medical Center, Long Beach Health and Human Services Department, and the Long Beach LGBTQ Center.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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