Call for stories/interviews: diverse older adults 50+ living with HIV/AIDS

Please help us make a difference by sharing your story. We’re looking for stories (we can use your name or an alias) to include in our upcoming report. About the report: In May, the Diverse Elders Coalition will publish a critically needed and groundbreaking report about diverse older adults living with HIV/AIDS. It will detail how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has affected health coverage for diverse older people (people of color and/or LGBT) and now that enrollment has concluded offer policy recommendations to our nation’s decision makers.

Additionally, we are looking for diverse older adults living with HIV/AIDS who are willing to speak with the media (we will provide training), but this is not a requirement in sharing your story for our report.

Stories change minds—and we can use your help. One of the most powerful and effective ways to educate the public and build momentum for increasing support to older adults living with HIV is to share stories. The Diverse Elders Coalition is looking for stories that are personal, emotional and show the strength of our community despite great adversity—we know by telling these kinds of stories that change is possible.

Contact Patrick Aitcheson at diverse.elders.coalition@gmail.com to tell your story. If you know of an older adult living with HIV/AIDS who has a story to share, please share this post.

To learn more about the Diverse Elders Coalition, visit diverseelders.org.

One Last Push: What you must know before March 31 if you are HIV+

Time is ticking. You and your loved ones only have until March 31st to apply for health insurance. Don’t delay.

Under the Affordable Care Act (or ACA), the Health Insurance Marketplace ensures that no application for health insurance is rejected due to preexisting medical conditions, such as HIV, which disproportionately affects communities of color and older people. Did You Know? Research projects that within the next few years, one in two people with HIV in this country will be age 50 or older. One in Two!

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) knows that understanding the Health Insurance Marketplace can feel a lot like piecing together a puzzle.  With only days left to apply for insurance, it can be especially overwhelming—and there is no time to waste.

This is why we are bringing all the necessary information to you, centralized in one place. If you are (or someone you know is) an older adult, living with HIV/AIDS, needs insurance or just have some last minute questions about the health insurance marketplace, let us help you.

Take a look below and open up the section that is most relevant to you.

I don’t have insurance
If you are an older person living with HIV, The ACA is a big help. Because of the ACA, health insurance is easier to get and can be more affordable.

All private health insurance plans offered in the Marketplace will offer the same set of essential health benefits. These benefits include areas of significant importance to HIV+ people such as prescription drugs, lab services and chronic disease management. Without the ACA, private insurance options have varied widely from limited or no coverage in some states to very expensive comprehensive coverage in other states. For example, prior to this year’s implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace, New York had no exclusions for pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or being HIV+, however individual HMO coverage with a major insurer cost $1,409 per month in 2013. This price point was extremely unaffordable for many HIV+ older adults. When the ACA was implemented in January 2014, “gold” level coverage from the same insurer cost $688 per month. That’s $721 less a month or $8,652 more a year in an HIV+ older person’s pocket. Based on income levels, there is also the opportunity to qualify for an Advanced Premium Tax Credit to further decrease the cost of health insurance. For HIV+ older people, the Health Insurance Marketplace is yet another major benefit of the Affordable Care Act.

Learn more on why the ACA is a big help to HIV+ older adults

Apply for health insurance. Download our flyer, Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities, which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace (also available in Chinese ∣ Vietnamese ∣ Korean ∣ Spanish)

I have Medicaid
If you are currently covered under Medicaid, there is nothing you need to do. If you are unsure if you are eligible for Medicaid, click this link to see if you qualify.

Medicaid serves as the single largest payer of long-term care in the United States, which is often necessary for older adults and people with disabilities who rely on institutional or in-home health services. Medicaid is also the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with low income in the country, including many older adults with HIV. Additionally, many people with HIV qualify as disabled if their condition has progressed and they have been diagnosed with AIDS.

If you don’t qualify, visit www.healthcare.gov and check your options for buying health insurance.

Need help applying? Download our flyer, Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities, which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace (also available in Chinese ∣ Vietnamese ∣ Korean ∣ Spanish)

My job gives me insurance
If you currently have insurance through your employer or that of your spouse or a family member, there is nothing you need to do.

However, if you feel that you can find a cheaper plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace or know that circumstances at work will change, visit www.healthcare.gov and check your options for buying health insurance.

Need help applying? Download our flyer, Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities, which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace (also available in Chinese ∣ Vietnamese ∣ Korean ∣ Spanish)

I’m 65 or older and have Medicare
Medicare is critically important to the health and economic well-being of diverse older adults. Among those over age 55, 46 percent of Latinos are covered by Medicare, 43 percent of Asians, and 52 percent of African Americans.

If you are already on Medicare, the Marketplace does not affect you. However, the ACA has provisions that have improved the benefits older people 65+ get through Medicare, including lower-cost prescription drugs and free preventive services.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a while for the next Medicare open enrollment. It will run from October 15-December 7, 2014.

I get support from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
If you don’t currently have insurance (such as through an employer, Medicare or Medicaid), but currently receive support from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for your HIV care and treatment needs, you’ll need to buy health insurance.

It’s important to note that some states have expanded Medicaid, meaning if you weren’t eligible before, you may now be. Click this link to see if you qualify.

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, visit www.healthcare.gov and check your options for buying health insurance.

Need help applying? Download our flyer, Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities, which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace (also available in Chinese ∣ Vietnamese ∣ Korean ∣ Spanish)

I am an immigrant living with HIV
If you are an immigrant living with HIV, how the Marketplace will impact you depends on your immigration status.

For the 10 million non-citizens living in the United States legally, they are expected to gain health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. This means that even for an older person 65+ who has not met the work requirements to qualify for Medicare, they will be able to shop for insurance in the Marketplace.

Unfortunately, the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are not eligible to buy health insurance in the Marketplace.  For this reason, undocumented immigrants are not subject to the mandate that nearly all residents carry insurance or pay a financial penalty. Those undocumented immigrants who need health care have the option of using the nation’s 8,500 community health centers (they do not ask about immigration status) or visit a hospital’s emergency room.

It’s important to note that Ryan White services and medications are free for those with an income under $44,680, regardless of immigration status.

I need more time. Can I apply for health insurance after March 31?
An important note from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS):

The deadline for open enrollment is March 31st.    As the Administration said previously, those consumers who are in line by the March 31st deadline to complete enrollment, we will make sure you get covered.  Just like Election Day, if you are in line when the polls close, you get to vote.  We won’t close the door on those who tried to get covered and were unable to do so through no fault of their own.  So, those who were in line or had technical problems with the website can quickly come back and sign up as soon as possible.

Additionally, CMS also is clarifying that under limited circumstances, people with complex cases may qualify for a special enrollment period.  These include, for example, victims of domestic abuse and consumers who were found ineligible for Medicaid, but whose accounts were not transferred to the Marketplace in a timely way before March 31.  These special cases are for specific situations where a consumer was not able to successfully complete enrollment during the open enrollment period despite their efforts to do so and through no fault of their own.

Read More Read More

A Video Review of Native American HIV/AIDS Issues

March 20 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). NNHAAD is a national effort to raise awareness about how HIV/AIDS affects American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian people and to promote testing.

An Overview

  • HIV infection affects AI/AN in ways that are not always apparent because of their small population size.
  • The rate of HIV infection is 30 percent higher and the rate of AIDS is 50 percent higher among AI/AN compared with white Americans, according to HHS’ Office of Minority Health.
  • Compared with other races/ethnicities, AI/AN have poorer survival rates after an HIV diagnosis.
  • AI/AN face special HIV prevention challenges, including poverty and culturally based stigma.

The following five videos give us a window into the HIV/AIDS crisis facing Native Americans.

Recognizing and Combatting Stigma: HIV & AIDS Impacting Indian Country

Advocating for Tribal HIV/AIDS Education and Legislation: A Success Story

Read More Read More

Women and HIV/AIDS: What about Older Adults, Women of Color, and Cancer?

March 10, 2014 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). NWGHAAD is a nationwide effort to help women and girls take action to protect themselves and their partners from HIV – through prevention, testing and treatment. The HIV epidemic is rapidly aging with 17% of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. occurring in those 50 and older. By 2015 the CDC expects half of the HIV infected population to be over 50. Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to be diagnosed with HIV at a later stage in the disease. This can lead to poorer diagnoses and shorter HIV to AIDS intervals. And with HIV and age, comes cancer.

Statistics – An Overview

  • One in four people living with HIV infection in the U.S. are women.
  • According to the CDC, 275,700 American women are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Women made up 20% (9,500) of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010 with most (84%) of these new infections in women being from heterosexual contact.
  • 4,014 women with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2010 and an estimated 111,940 women have died since the beginning of the epidemic.
  • Only 41% of HIV positive women are retained in HIV related medical care and only 26% of HIV positive women achieve viral suppression. Viral suppression improves survival and reduces transmission to others.

Disproportionate Affect on Women of Color

  • Black and Hispanic women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other ethnicities.
  • While only 13% of the U.S. female population, Black women represent 64% of new female HIV infections.

Read More Read More

Battle Misinformation and Stand Up for the Affordable Care Act (Black History Month)

In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. A new story will be shared every Wednesday, with additional posts shared throughout the month. Be sure to visit diverseelders.org regularly during the month of February.

By Angie Boddie, Director of Health Programs at The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc.

Black history month reminds us that African Americans come from ancestors with a legacy of overcoming obstacles far and wide. Five decades since the oppressive days of Jim Crow, African Americans have a lot to celebrate— achievements in science, business, government, medicine, arts, sports, and a two-term elected president of the United States who delivered on his promise to provide universal healthcare to all Americans.

Affordable_Care_Act_100413Originally written with the premise of putting consumers back in control of their healthcare, the Affordable Care Act required all states to assist its residents by expanding their Medicaid program’s to their residents with incomes below $16,000 ($32,000 for a family of four), with the understanding that the federal government would foot most of the bill.

Upon enactment, opponents took dead aim at the legislation. Coining the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare”, opponents tirelessly worked to repeal and replace the law. After years of heated public bickering, countless rallies, and a Supreme Court decision that finally declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional, but also gave states the option to opt out of expanding their Medicaid programs, southern states such as, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas decided to forgo Medicaid expansion, leaving thousands without healthcare coverage.
Read More Read More

10 things Black Americans should know about HIV/AIDS (Black History Month)

In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. A new story will be shared every Wednesday, with additional posts shared throughout the month. Be sure to visit diverseelders.org regularly during the month of February.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). NBHAAD is an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative for Blacks in the United States with four specific focal points: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved and Get Treated.

Of special note to black older adults is that 17% of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. occur in those 50 and older. Soon older adults will represent half of those in the U.S. infected with HIV and yet HIV+ black older adults often face rejection and feel discouraged from talking about the disease. The stigma and silence around HIV/AIDS in the Black community contributes to the rise of infections, later diagnoses, poorer prognoses and delayed treatment in black older adults.

1. HIV/AIDS remains a crisis, especially for Black Americans.

Source: CDC

Source: CDC

 

2. The rate of new HIV infections for Black Americans far, far exceeds that of other major racial/ethnic groups.

Source: CDC

Source: CDC

 

3. The reasons why HIV infection rates are higher in Black communities.

Source: “African Americans and HIV” by Abby Young-Powell

Source: “African Americans and HIV” by Abby Young-Powell

Read More Read More

Focus turns to aging with AIDS

This article by Matthew S. Bajko (m.bajko@ebar.com) originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter

Estimated percentage of the adult population (15 years and older) living with HIV which is aged 50 years or over, by region, by 2012. (Source UN.org)

Estimated percentage of the adult population (15 years and older) living with HIV which is aged 50 years or over, by region, by 2012. (Source UN.org)

As the global AIDS epidemic continues to age, greater focus is being paid to older adults living with HIV.

AIDS advocates are calling on service providers and health departments to tailor HIV prevention services, including HIV testing, to meet the needs of people aged 50 and above. And new guidelines for doctors with patients who have HIV are being released that highlight the need to focus on preventive care.

The issue of an aging HIV and AIDS population has been a growing focus for local health officials for several years now, with new programs being developed to address the specific needs older adults are confronting due to the AIDS epidemic.

A 2011 Bay Area Reporter story noted that for the first time people 50 years of age or older accounted for the majority of people living with an AIDS diagnosis in San Francisco.

The 2012 HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Report released by the Department of Public Health demonstrated the aging of persons living with HIV, with decreasing proportions in the 30-39 and 40-49 years age groups accompanied by persons aged 50 years or above rising from 42 to 51 percent between 2009 and 2012.

For the full article, which originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter click here

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

In the Crosshairs of Health Disparities: Older Latinos, HIV and Depression

December 1st is World AIDS Day

By Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD, Director for Research and Evaluation, ACRIA Center on HIV and Aging

Latinos are the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., and comprise 17% of the population. They are often viewed as a monolithic group by mainstream culture. However, the term Latino, referring to people of Mexican, Central American, and South American origins, encompasses great diversity with regard to nationality, immigration history, language use, educational and occupational opportunities, and socio-economic position. These aspects of diversity also serve as indicators of social-structural determinants of health disparities (or differences in how often a disease affects people). How these social-structural determinants of health affect the lives of older Latino adults help us to better address the needs of this population. Understanding health disparities also provides insight into challenges faced by diverse elders from a variety of racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds who deal with many of these same issues. The intersection of HIV/AIDS and depression among older Latinos will be used to illustrate how these social-structural determinants affect the health and well-being of a diverse aging population.

Double Jeopardy: HIV and Depression

Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. The overall HIV prevalence rate for Latinos is nearly three times the rate for whites. Further, Latinos are the most likely to be classified at Stage 3 (i.e., AIDS) at the time of their HIV diagnosis (48%), as compared with whites (42%) and blacks (39%). Due to successful anti-retroviral therapy, by 2015 more than half of those with HIV in the U.S. will be 50 years or older, a proportion that will rise to 70% by 2020. The disparity in HIV prevalence is amplified among older people with HIV/AIDS. Among Latinos who are 50 and older, HIV prevalence is five times that of older non-Hispanic whites. In addition, older Latinos have a 44% increased risk for major depression and are more likely to present with clinically significant depressive symptoms compared with older whites. This syndemic (convergence of two disorders that magnify the negative effects of each) of HIV and mental distress among Latino older people with HIV (“OPWH”) is an important public health concern since the most consistent predictor of HIV treatment non-adherence is depression, and only 26% of Latinos with HIV achieve the clinical goal of viral suppression. Read More Read More

Open Letter to Health Reform Advocates: Pay Attention to Discrimination

The harms inflicted by discrimination reveal themselves in our bodies as we age — as people of color, as poor and low-income people, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The symptoms manifest as higher rates of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, social isolation and more. In medical charts throughout the country, our bodies record what it means to survive a life shaped by perpetual poverty, higher concentrations in low-wage jobs with no health insurance, thin retirement options and inadequate protections in the workplace. They depict our fractured relationships to health care — from cultural and linguistic barriers to overt bias and discrimination from health and aging providers, to a long-held, hard-earned distrust of medical staff internalized through years of differential treatment.

Our bodies confirm vividly the geographic dimensions of structural inequality, which can predict long-term health as early as childhood, based largely on where a person is born. We inhale the poison of inequality throughout our lives, and it inflames in our later years as a dismal diagnosis, a medical crisis or a preventable death. Yes, severe illness will surprise many of us at some point in our lives, and death is indiscriminate, but as empirical fact, poor health affects certain demographics disproportionately at earlier and higher rates, often the same people with no health coverage to manage the repercussions.

Oct. 1 aims to begin reversing these conditions. The health insurance marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers opportunities to shop for state health insurance plans and begins improving coverage for the 47 million uninsured people in this country. Millions of people work in jobs with no health coverage, cannot afford insurance on their own and fall through gaps in public support that leave them uninsured or underinsured. Without insurance, people accrue unmanageable debt, delay health care and in turn watch their health worsen over time — a trajectory most often experienced by people of color, LGBT people and low-income people. These hardships intensify for older people who must also contend with age-related bias in the workplace and the challenges of paying for out-of-pocket expenses with meager incomes. An all-inclusive vision of health reform must incorporate the realities of aging as early as age 50. Read More Read More

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

September 18 marks the annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, a day to shine a spotlight on HIV/AIDS and its impact on the aging body. The Diverse Elders Coalition and our member organizations know well that this disease greatly affects our nation’s older people. In fact, adults 50 years of age and older make up the fastest growing population with HIV, and by 2015, more than half of Americans living with HIV/AIDS will be over 50.

While individuals with HIV/AIDS are living longer lives, older adults have more than three other (usually chronic) health conditions in addition to HIV versus their age peers without HIV. As a result, they have a host of health and services needs that neither HIV nor aging services providers are fully prepared to meet. Yet older adults have rarely been targeted in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns. As a result, many do not realize that their behaviors can put them at risk for HIV infection. Additionally, health care providers may mistakenly assume that older patients are no longer engaged in high risk behaviors, and therefore do no initiate conversation about the importance of using protection and getting tested regularly.

This is why representatives from our member organizations SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and NHCOA (National Hispanic Council on Aging) are at Capitol Hill today for a briefing, reception and hearing to highlight the needs and challenges of older adults with and at risk for HIV. You can follow what happened and get live updates by following @nhcoa and @sageusa on Twitter. Read More Read More

ACA: A Big Help to HIV+ Older Adults

There are only 41 days left until open enrollment begins under the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA’s”) Health Insurance Marketplace. Starting October 1st individuals can enroll in insurance plans for coverage beginning on January 1, 2014. The Marketplace brings a range of options to HIV+ people for high quality insurance at lower costs.

How the Marketplace Works GIF
All private health insurance plans offered in the Marketplace will offer the same set of essential health benefits. These benefits include areas of significant importance to HIV+ people such as prescription drugs, lab services and chronic disease management. Without the ACA, private insurance options have varied widely from limited or no coverage in some states to very expensive comprehensive coverage in other states. For example, in New York where there are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or being HIV+, individual HMO coverage with a major insurer currently costs $1,409 per month. This price point can be extremely unaffordable for many HIV+ older adults. As the ACA is implemented in January 2014, “gold” level coverage from the same insurer will cost $688 per month. That’s $721 less a month or $8,652 more a year in an HIV+ older person’s pocket. For HIV+ older people, the Health Insurance Marketplace is yet another major benefit of the Affordable Care Act. Read More Read More

The Re-launch is here!

Two weeks ago, we announced that we would be re-launching the Diverse Elders Coalition Blog.  Read here to find out more.

We are thrilled that this day has finally come. As we previously promised, in addition to our regular contributing bloggers, we will have exciting guest bloggers.  We will also display our content in a variety of different ways (e.g., pictures, videos, interviews, Top 5 columns, etc.) And much more! Have a suggestion? Contact us.

You can bookmark this page or subscribe to our RSS feed to stay updated. Check back on Wednesday to read our latest post, courtesy of National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). Until then, enjoy some highlights from the blog’s history:

1) Watch Our Story

2) The Unique Needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Elders

3) 10 Considerations for Working with the Diversity of Older LGBT Latinos

We are Re-launching On March 18!

Share on Facebook and Twitter

Share on Facebook and Twitter

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) was founded in 2010, and in July 2012 we launched our official website, which also serves as a news and commentary blog on the social, political and economic issues affecting the growing yet vulnerable demographic of elders who are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT).In the last eight months, we have put out numerous posts on the issues that affect our communities and the creative ideas and best practices to address them. In the summer of 2012, we also released Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, a resource that describes the issues facing elders of color and LGBT elders, who together will represent a majority of older adults in the United States by 2050.

In this time, we have received some wonderful comments on our work, as well as helpful feedback from our readers (all of you) on how to improve the site to better meet your needs—and we listened to you. Members of the Diverse Elders Coalition came together and crafted an exciting plan for moving forward by implementing many of your ideas, which you’ll see starting with our blog re-launch on March 18.  Here are some of the improvements to look forward to:

  • In addition to our regular contributing bloggers, we have some exciting guest bloggers scheduled!
  • Content displayed in a variety of ways (e.g., pictures, videos, interviews, Top 5 columns, etc.)
  • More news and original content from coalition members
  • And more!

 

As we look forward to March 18, please like us (and tell a friend!) on Facebook to stay updated on the events surrounding the launch and the latest news affecting diverse elders. If you have any questions about DEC or would like to submit an idea for a blog post, please contact us.

See you on the 18th!

To learn more about DEC members, click here.

HIV/AIDS is Still an Issue for Older Gay Black Men

In honor of Black History Month, the SAGE Blog will feature a post on LGBT aging in the black community every Thursday during the month of February. February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, so our first post in the series is on HIV/AIDS in the black community by Ty Martin, Community Liaison at SAGE Harlem.

Ty Martin & SAGE Constituent Sherman Walker

Ty Martin & SAGE Constituent Sherman Walker

I am black.  I am gay.   I am an older adult. 

I am resilient. And so is my community.

 

I grew up during the civil rights movement, seeing powerful black activists around me fight for our civil rights as a people.  I also grew up during the Stonewall Riots, feeling the hostility society harbored toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.  And I grew up during a time when I lost many loved ones due to HIV/AIDS, a disease that was viewed by the world as a critical epidemic.

Now it’s 2013. Today as a black gay man, I enjoy more freedoms and rights (as a New Yorker, I have the right to marry my long-term partner Stanton). Yet, for older black gay men who are living with HIV/AIDs, it’s still a difficult journey.

Continue reading this article>>>