Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Group suggests policy for people aging with HIV


Tez Anderson. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Representatives of AIDS-related nonprofits, service providers, and others recently agreed on several areas of importance in helping adults who are aging with HIV/AIDS.

Recommendations from the HIV and aging working group of San Francisco's Long Term Care Coordinating Council include supporting research, increasing linkages to care, making available more affordable housing and preventing evictions, supporting the inclusion of transgender people, training health care providers, and ensuring food security.

The LTCCC, first appointed in 2004 by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, provides policy guidance to the mayor's office.

According to the working group, 58 percent of the 16,014 people living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco, or about 9,288, are over 50. The group also says that 84 percent, or approximately 13,452, are over 40.

Among other recommendations presented Thursday, December 10, the working group also wants to see more access to employment services.

"It's no secret that the majority of people who are disabled by HIV live on disability [benefits], which is not that much," working group member Chip Supanich said. Supanich also talked about the need for help with financial and estate planning.

"A lot of people did not expect to live to a point where they would have these concerns," he said.

The working group also suggested making $125,000 available to implement the second Research with Older Adults with HIV/AIDS project and initiatives at UCSF, along with $50,000 for mental health and psychosocial services.

For ROAH, Supanich said, "We'd like to see some focus groups and research of each decade," so that people in their 50s, 60s, and other age categories aren't lumped together.

Members of the LTCCC approved the recommendations Thursday but decided to hold off on the financial portion in order to figure out where money may come from.

Vince Crisostomo, a working group member and program manager of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network, noted that "some of this work" addressed in the recommendations "is already being done."

After the presentation, Crisostomo said information from the first ROAH has been "used to influence policy ever since," and more research will help determine the work that needs to be addressed.

"The city does things based on need," he said, and it's important to do the research and have an assessment of those needs because "otherwise it's all anecdotal."

Crisostomo said it's not clear where the research money would come from, but the city's Department of Public Health would probably support it, and there would "probably be multiple partners."

He said he's hoping that advocates can "leverage" the LTCCC's support.

The working group, which will continue its efforts in 2016, also wants adults who are aging with HIV to be designated as "a population with 'greatest need,'" according to the group's presentation.

Tez Anderson, executive director of Let's Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), attended the presentation.

In an email afterward, Anderson said, "I am thrilled that the LTCC agreed to designate older adults living with HIV as a population of 'greatest social need,' as defined in the Older Americans Act. In addition to its symbolic importance, the designation accomplishes two key things. It raises awareness about the urgent and unique challenges faced by this large but invisible population. It also paves the way for increased services and prioritizes the other recommendations – especially the needs assessment and increased linkage to care."



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