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Springfield, Illinois – Nov. 29, 2022 – In advance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Illinois HIV Care Connect has developed a series of personal stories about HIV survivors aged 50+ who attest to leading healthy and fulfilling lives after receiving an HIV diagnosis.

A feature of Illinois HIV Care Connect’s HIV and Aging Campaign, the stories of Gregory, Bonnie, Carmen, Milbert, Jeff and Lisa demonstrate these survivors’ ability to have fulfilling careers and personal relationships by taking their medications and contributing to a strong support community. The campaign’s website content and social media posts emphasize actions older adults with HIV can take to increase their chances of living long and healthy lives.

The #HIVandAging Campaign is also visible on Illinois HIV Care Connect’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media platforms. An HIV and Aging Quiz offers an easy way to understand how to stay healthy while aging with HIV.

“Each year, World AIDS Day is an opportune time to recognize the people who have benefitted from the outstanding strides the health care community has made in preventing and treating HIV,” said Michael Maginn, HIV prevention director, Illinois Public Health Association, which manages Illinois HIV Care Connect with funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health. “We have survivors who have lived 35 years or more with HIV. They’ve done so by getting tested and diagnosed, taking their medications, staying in care, and making their HIV undetectable and untransmittable.”

Persons aged 50+ with HIV represent nearly half of Illinois’ HIV-positive population

The 16,198 persons who are 50+ living with HIV in Illinois represent 45% of all persons living with HIV in Illinois, according to Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) 2019 data found on the Illinois Getting to Zero HIV Dashboard. About 60% of Illinois residents over the age of 50 living with HIV are men who have sex with men, and most are persons of color.

The relatively high percentage of persons living with HIV who are aged 50 or older is due to improvements in the effectiveness of treatment with HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART). Persons with HIV who are diagnosed early and who get and stay on ART can keep the virus suppressed and live long and healthy lives.

An Illinois HIV Care Connect HIV and Aging webpage provides data on the age 50 and older HIV population in Illinois. In addition to data about new and late diagnoses, the page includes information about the percentages of the age 50 and older population who have achieved viral suppression and who are engaged in care, as well as about progress toward Illinois Getting to Zero HIV improvements targeted for persons aged 50+.

The HIV and Aging Campaign is Illinois HIV Care Connect’s ninth annual quality improvement initiative, following programs on HIV innovation in Illinois, HIV stigma, HIV and youth, social determinants of health, HIV treatment as prevention, viral suppression, staying in HIV care, and HIV and mental health.