Doctor, Doctor: Changing Caregivers is Like Getting a Divorce

This article originally appeared in A&U Magazine.

What do you mean, you’re retiring at the end of the year?! You can’t do that! We’ve been together for twenty years! You can’t just walk out on me like that!

When you’re a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor and have been relying on the same healthcare provider for quite some time, changing doctors can be problematic, both physically and emotionally. It’s like losing a boxing coach.

I have been with the same large HMO here in San Francisco since 1992. Doctor “C” has been my primary caregiver for most of that time. I.... Read More

             

The Importance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight off diseases, infections and certain cancers. HIV specifically attacks the body’s CD4+ cells, a type of T-cell that has a critical role in our adaptive immune system. When an unknown virus, bacteria, or pathogen enters the human body, CD4+ cells are required to stimulate the immune system in making the machinery to fight off the unknown intruder. Without CD4+ cells, it becomes difficult for the human body to regulate immune responses, increasing the risk of death from diseases and infections as common as the cold. When HIV destroys CD4+ cells, impairing the functionality of the immune system, this leads to the acquired.... Read More

             

Facing Mortality Head-On

This article originally appeared in A&U Magazine.

For a handful of months now, I’ve been contemplating a decision that I know many long-term HIV survivors have contemplated before me.

Letting go.

That is, I have considered going off my medications—all of them—and letting Nature and the virus just take their course. As a long-time advocate of a patient’s right to choose when and how to end his own life when facing a terminal disease, the decision to cease medication seems to me a perfectly rational, honorable decision available to me.

I keep it open as an.... Read More

             

LGBT Seniors Grapple With End-of-Life Issues

by Matthew S. Bajko. This article originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter.

While enjoying her 72nd year on the planet, Donna Personna knows her remaining days are numbered. Yet the prospect of her demise doesn’t scare her.

“The end question. ‘The end.’ It’s not a touchy subject for me. I’m irreverent,” said Personna, a transgender woman who grew up in San Jose and now lives in San Francisco. “I learned long ago this was going to come.”

Personna, a beloved drag performer, playwright, and hairdresser, credits her Mexican heritage with teaching her that death is a part of life. She pointed to the annual Dia de los Muertos holiday — the Day of the Dead in.... Read More

             

SAGEPositive: How SAGE cares for long-term survivors of HIV

By Aspen Christian. This article was originally published on the SAGE Blog.

Did you know that by the year 2020, 70 percent of the people living with HIV in the United States will be over the age of 50? How about that older adults (age 50 and up) account for 17 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States?

The 30th annual World AIDS Day was this past Saturday, December 1st, and this year’s theme is “Know your status.” Knowing your status gives you powerful information to keep you and your potential partners healthy. SAGE can refer you to places across New York State where you can.... Read More

             

The First Loss is the Deepest

This article originally appeared in A&U Magazine.

Every long-term HIV survivor on the planet has stories to tell about friends, lovers, co-workers, and/or family members whom they lost to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 90s. Anyone familiar with my writing knows the importance I place on our storytelling, our sharing our stories ourselves, to avoid the “straight-washing” of our history that happens when we let others tell our stories. With that in mind, this is a story about the first of my friends to die.

Dean died first. In early 1982. For about a year, we had.... Read More

             

Elder Justice is LGBT Justice!

by Sherrill Wayland, MSW, Manager of National Projects for SAGE.

Elder Justice is LGBT Justice! Whether LGBT older people protested in the streets, founded organizations, or just managed to survive times of social unrest, they laid the groundwork for the progress all LGBT people now enjoy.

Over the past year, SAGE  and FORGE collaborated with the National Center on Elder Abuse to create a series of fact sheets that engage, empower, and advocate for elder justice for LGBT older people, their caregivers, and community organizations.

To develop these fact sheets, SAGE conducted focus.... Read More

             

The View From Down Here

This article was originally published in A&U Magazine.

Around the first of April of this year, I began using a wheelchair when I leave the apartment. This was an inevitability that I resisted, fought off for as long as I could. Admitting that I need a wheelchair struck me as “the last straw,” akin to simply giving up, accepting the fact that the virus is winning. Worse, I have become more of a burden to my fiancé Rick than a companion. (When he read a draft of this column, Rick balked at my thinking I’m a burden on him and assured me that I’m not. He’s a good man that way.)

However, between the debilitating pain in.... Read More

             

Confronting AIDS and Coming Out Taught Us How to Age Well

by John-Manuel Andriote. This post originally appeared on the SAGEMatters blog.

A first-ever survey in 2013 of LGBT San Francisco residents aged 60 to 92 found something startling: 15 percent of the 612 respondents had “seriously considered” committing suicide within the last 12 months. Commissioned by the city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force, the study found high degrees of disability as well as poor physical and mental health—both of which are associated with depression. The researchers were understandably concerned by the high percentage of LGBT seniors who had considered suicide.

But look at the numbers in a.... Read More

             
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