California Commits to Older People Living With HIV

Both houses of the California State Legislature supported a bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom to address the unique needs of the aging HIV population. Newsom said the legislation will assure that older adults with HIV “are protected”. The signing of the state’s HIV & Aging Act, which is a historic moment for LGBTQ Californians and all Californians who have been impacted by HIV. The bill was support by organizations such as Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), Health, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Thanks to advancements in HIV health care, those living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. In turn, the number of older adults living with HIV is increasing. The HIV & Aging Act updates the Welfare and Institutions Code so older adults with HIV will have access to their services. These older adults most often exhibit high rates of multiple comorbidities, behavioral and mental health issues. Additionally, they are often socially isolated.

More than half of people living with HIV in CA are 50 years old or older, according to a 2018 California HIV Surveillance Report. The report also found that 15% of those recently diagnosed with HIV are 50 and older. This older population-many of whom are survivors of the very dark days of the epidemic- need critical support as they age

Equality California Legislative Director Tami A. Martin said, “Thanks to Governor Newsom, Senator [John] Laird, and HIV advocates, the Golden State will now make sure that our elders living with HIV have access to food assistance, job training, transportation, or any other vital services.”

CEO Craig Thompson of APLA said that “… older adults with HIV are often long-term survivors who have lost many loved ones over the years in the epidemic as they continue to confront stigma. Thanks to effective treatments, people with HIV are living longer than we could have ever imagined just a few decades ago and now a majority of people with HIV in California are over 50 years old. Unfortunately, our current health and social service systems are not yet prepared to address the unique needs of this population,”

The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022


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