Philanthropy has a critical role to play in addressing the growing unmet needs of older people living with HIV/AIDS, a report from Grantmakers In Aging finds.
The report, Aging Positively: Bringing HIV/AIDS into the Aging Services Mainstream: An Introduction for Funders (27 pages, PDF), found that half the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States today are age 50 or older — a percentage that is projected to reach 75 percent by 2030. What's more, because HIV-positive older adults tend to experience additional health issues that require aging- and expert geriatrics help, more support will be needed to address their complex health and social needs over the coming decades.
Funded by Gilead Sciences, the report offers recommendation as to how philanthropy can work with aging services and HIV/AIDS specialty services providers to address both the healthcare needs of older people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as the social determinants of health such as housing and food security, mobility, stigma, social isolation, and depression that impact their overall health and quality of life. Such a "whole person" community-based approach includes co-locating and integrating HIV/AIDS services with geriatric services; improving HIV/AIDS services by listening to and learning from older people living with the virus; and offering social support programs targeted by gender, age group, and race/ethnicity.
While a number of efforts designed to address the problem have been launched in recent years, including the Gilead HIV Age Positively initiative, which awarded $17.6 million in grants in 2019 in support of aging-focused HIV/AIDS programs, philanthropic funding in this area continues to be inadequate. Philanthropy needs to do more, the report's authors argue, with a focus on wraparound care, education and outreach, bridging gaps in medical care, and strengthening social supports.
"People aging with HIV are some of the most vulnerable, stigmatized, and systematically excluded people in our society. This issue should feel relevant to many different kinds of funders," said Grantmakers In Aging CEO John Feather. "Whether you work on social determinants of health, clinical research, mental health and social services, or social justice issues, we need to work together to ensure that people entering late life with HIV have access to care and services to meet their complex needs."