When the AIDS epidemic began 34 years ago, people infected with HIV lived only about six months. Now people are living healthier and longer with HIV, and the 11th Annual National Conference on HIV/AIDS & Aging, co-sponsored by UMass Medical School’s New England AIDS Education and Training Center (NEAETC), is devoted to raising awareness of health issues facing older adults who are living with the disease.
“Because of the availability of effective anti-retroviral treatments, HIV has become a more manageable chronic illness and as a result, there are increasing numbers of people living with HIV and aging with HIV,” said Vanessa Sasso, MSW, senior project director at NEAETC, a program within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.
“Awareness needs to be raised and more research needs to be done around HIV and aging – particularly around prevention, clinical guidelines and health disparities,” Sasso said.
The conference, presented by the New England Association on HIV Over Fifty (NEAHOF), will be held Sept. 25 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. This year’s conference will include a tribute to James Campbell, president and chief executive officer of NEAHOF, who died Aug. 28. Memorial services will be held Sept. 27.
Campbell, who had been struggling with HIV, was the master of ceremonies and the person at the helm of the conference. Not long after learning he was HIV positive, Campbell looked for ways to advocate for others who were struggling with HIV, and began helping them find affordable, safe housing. He joined NEAETC as a member of the resource faculty, where he provided education for health professionals, students and others throughout New England.
“He was an amazing man and his work will carry on,” Sasso said. “He was a tireless advocate and champion of the conference. Living long with HIV was one of his passions.”
Fifty percent of those now living with HIV in the U.S. are age 50 or older. By 2020, up to 70 percent of all people living with HIV in the U.S. will be age 50 or older, Sasso said. More focus needs to be placed on HIV and older adults – for both prevention and care, she said.
People living with HIV acquire one or more additional disorders at a younger age than noninfected people, which leads to aging faster. Two talks at the conference will address the accelerated aging process in those who have HIV.
Several speakers are scheduled to discuss a variety of topics concerning HIV/AIDS and aging at the conference:
- Dawn Fukuda, Sc.M, director of the Office of HIV/AIDS at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, will discuss National HIV Continuum & Intersection with Aging at 8:45 a.m.
- Virginia Triant, MD, MPH, of the Department of Medicine/Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, will give an HIV Update at 9 a.m.
- Steve Karpiak, PhD, senior director for Research & Evaluation at ACRIA, will talk about The Status of the Aging HIV Epidemic: Inflammation, Multi-morbidity & Accentuated Aging at 9:40 a.m.
- Fadi H. Ramadan, MD, program director of Senior Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, will address Frailty & Chronic Disease at 10 a.m.
- Camilla Graham, MD, co-director of the Viral Hepatitis Center in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, will discuss Hepatitis C & HIV at 11 a.m.
- Betty Morgan, PhD, RN, clinical specialist for Adult Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, will present the Challenges of Treating Pain in HIV Infected Patients that are Opioid Dependent at 11:30 a.m.
- John Hogan, MD, an HIV specialist at the Upper Cardoza Community Health Center in Washington, D.C., will give a talk on Health Disparities & HIV in Persons Over 50 at 1 p.m.
- Kevin Ard, MD, MPH, medical director for the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute in Boston, will discuss LGBT Aging at 1:40 p.m.
NEAETC, one of eight regional centers and four national centers, has received continuous funding since its inception from grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration.