As the nation marks the opening of LGBT Pride Month, executive directors from 34 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations from across the United States have released a joint letter committing themselves and their organizations to re-engaging the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV. Read the letter here, view the campaign video, and then visit the site We the LGBT to pledge your support for achieving the vision of an AIDS-free generation.
Over the last 30 years, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has seen great strides in the movement for full equality. Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
This is a guest post by
Robert Espinoza, SAGE's Senior Director for Public Policy and
Communications. April is National Minority Health Month and in today's post,
Robert writes about the health disparities faced by LGBT older people of color
and the release of SAGE's new policy report "Health Equity and LGBT Elders
of Color.” The report can be downloaded here.
Helena Bushong is 60, transgender and living with HIV/AIDS. In 2002, she was dually diagnosed with HIV and AIDS and given six months to live. Ty Martin is an aging advocate who leads a support group for older gay black men with HIV/AIDS in the historic Harlem neighborhood of New York City. His group members grapple with stigma, the questions related to accelerated aging as HIV-positive people, and a general longing for community. Both Helena and Ty are LGBT and people of color. And both of them combat the health disparities and socio-economic challenges associated with aging as people who are marginalized on multiple fronts—a reality rarely discussed in the mainstream aging field or in the popular LGBT rights movement. The virtual silence on this subject lives out in their personal and political lifespans.
My name is Helena and I am a 60-year-old transgender female living with HIV. I am not a victim. An HIV/AIDS diagnosis is NOT a death sentence, but is similar to living with breast cancer or diabetes, which through some lifestyle changes, are manageable diseases.
I was diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in 2002, and was told I would not live more than six months, and at best, a year. Along with my doctors, I believe that I was a "late tester," meaning because I was diagnosed with AIDS—a late stage infection—and not HIV, I likely contracted HIV 15 to 20 years before showing any sign or symptoms. Because people can carry HIV/AIDS asymptomatically, it is important to be tested on a regular basis to avoid a late test and spreading the disease.