Press Release (ePRNews.com) - BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Feb 10, 2017 - GRIOT Circle announces the unveiling of a new HIV initiative focusing on the lives of people of color living with HIV either or at risk. “Still Standing” is an educational project which involves several levels of community information in order to raise awareness of those over 50 living with HIV and the need for prevention and supportive services. This project is offered as a free workshop to NYC based organizations which provide services to the elder population. This campaign will involve three current participants of GRIOT’s HIV Men over 50 Group who will conduct in-person presentations to medical clinics, community organizations and medical providers in the NYC metro area.
GRIOT Circle has been hosting a “Men over 50 HIV Support Group” for over 8 years. In this peer-led group, members meet on a weekly basis to fellowship, share resources and discuss issues such as aging, sexuality, medication adherence, mental health and emerging treatments. The greatest value of the group is that members continuously add layers to their personal stories of contracting HIV, living with the disease, and aging within a culture that suppresses and devalues the strength of their voices and experience within the HIV, LGBTQ and aging communities.
HIV prevention, education and treatment efforts targeted towards the aging community have long proven to remain insufficient to meet the diverse needs of its members. Similarly, the lack of initiatives targeting the LGBTQ aging community remain bleak, specifically for seniors of color. Yale Medical School experts assert that this year 50% of individuals in the U.S. living with HIV will be over the age of 50. And while the HIV infection rates for seniors keeps growing, education and prevention still remain insufficient.
Knowing that more work needs to be done regarding prevention and education, GRIOT Circle created the “Still Standing, Aging Gracefully and Positively” project. The intent of this project is to use the diverse personal stories of the HIV+ men’s senior support group as an educational framework with which to discuss the unique mental and medical challenges presented by the disease. The purpose of this project is to: promote the importance of access to quality HIV care, highlight the unique medical challenges that managing the disease and chronic illnesses uniquely present to the aging process, destigmatize the shame surrounding disclosure and discuss the many barriers that exist as it relates to the elderly population and HIV testing and care.
As people living with the disease continue to live longer and the rate of infection of HIV continues to rise for those over the age of 50, a discussion about the intersectionality between aging and HIV/AIDS is necessary more now than ever. The ultimate goal of this project is to spread a message of prevention for all individuals – young, elderly, gay straight, bisexual, gender non-conforming, infected and non-infected.
“HIV doesn’t discriminate because of age, yet so many medical providers and support systems do when it comes to elders living with the disease. We want to show that their lives matter and create a platform to an invisible community and invisible discussion. People are dying; we need to talk about this” Jose Albino, Executive Director at GRIOT Circle.
According to recent statistical reports, almost half of all people diagnosed with HIV are over 50. In 2013 older adults comprised 50% of the entire HIV-infected population in NYS. It’s expected to rise. The largest growing HIV-infected population is adults 50 and older.
A barrier to prevention is the lost opportunities of medical providers to administer testing to elders along with misinformed information of senior’s sexual practices. Another aspect revolves around seniors unknowledgeable of sexually transmitted disease and their own risk to HIV, along with prevention messages which are not directed to the older communities.
For more information or to schedule an interview or workshop, contact Aundaray Guess, Director of Programs. Contact number is 718-246-2775, email: Aundaray@griotcircle.org
About GRIOT Circle
GRIOT Circle was founded in 1996 by LGBTQ elders of color in order to respond to the social and psychological fragmentation caused by ageism, racism, sexism, homophobia and poverty in the lives of LGBTQ elders of color. GRIOT Circle’s mission is to provide programs and services to assist its members in removing the isolation and fear around aging in both the LGBTQ people of color communities as well as the larger community and to eliminate discrimination wherever it exists.