Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS What we owe longtime survivors
by Victoria Noe
2014-10-01

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


I attended an emotional event at Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GHMC ), in commemoration of National HIV and Aging Day, Sept. 18 in New York City.

"We Aren't Dead Yet! What Do We Do Now?" was billed as a community discussion, with an impressive panel of experts: Dr. Judith Rabkin, Columbia University Dept. of Psychiatry and Dr. Perry Halkitis, NYU professor and author of The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience spoke along with two long-time HIV+ survivors, Jim Albaugh and Kevin Oree, and my friend, fellow ACT UP NY activist Jim Eigo.

The well-attended event was held to solicit feedback on the kinds of support and services needed by this often-forgotten, often-stigmatized group of people in my age group.

The needs were many and varied. By the time the GMHC staff member taking notes was finished, he had about four dozen topics listed: from the long-term complications of normal aging while adhering to powerful anti-retroviral drugs, to the stigma felt by gay and straight long-time survivors in regards to housing and employment, to the generational disconnect ( remember the "Generation Gap"? ) felt on both sides. Kevin Oree did not expect to see his 25th birthday but now, as he approaches 48, is facing common aging issues complicated by his HIV status.

Remember: No one expected "AIDS longtime survivor" to be a reality. It's a miracle, on many levels. But those—especially young gay men—who insist that all you have to do is 'take a pill every day and you're fine' need to wake up to the long-term effects of being HIV-positive. While they may in fact be 'fine' right now, studies are now underway to assess the impact of HIV on normal aging. Are you more at risk for heart attacks? Depression and panic disorders? Suicide? What about your ability to tolerate the medications without building up a resistance? And what impact do the complexities of ACA, Medicaid and Social Security have on your ability to live a full life?

For me, the most emotional moments came from those who bravely ( though sometimes anonymously ) articulated the most serious issues facing older survivors as loneliness and isolation. There is a critical need for grief support for those who only now—more than 30 years into the epidemic—are beginning to confront the loss of dozens and even hundreds of their friends. The isolation seemed particularly acute for those who are straight, who even after decades, knew no one else who was straight and HIV-positive. Thankfully, that issue was solved for them that night.

The panelists and attendees who identified as long-time survivors delayed their grief because they had to: they had to take care of themselves and their friends, they had to advocate for basic rights, they had to fight a war—no time to enjoy the luxury of grieving dozens of friends. That very complicated grief figures prominently in mental health issues in the long-time survivor community, including the epidemic of suicide,

There are striking similarities between those who have been affected by AIDS and those who have served our country in the military. Both groups suffer from survivor guilt, risk of suicide, complicated health issues and stigma. Both groups have kept their experiences to themselves, only willing to share war stories many years later. Both theoretically have access to strong support communities but often battle crippling loneliness.

Imagine if the war in Iraq or Afghanistan had dragged on for 30 years, with no end in sight. That's what it's like to be a veteran of the war against AIDS. Sometimes it feels like you're winning, sometimes you feel like you're losing. Sometimes you're on the frontlines, sometimes you're sent back for a brief furlough before redeploying. Others might forget about it, but for you, the war goes on.

I never envisioned a day when we would address aging issues for men and women who are HIV-positive. And it's not just long-time survivors: in this article, www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/age/olderamericans/index.html, from the CDC, we baby boomers ( of whatever sexual orientation ) are becoming infected even now. HIV and AIDS are not big topics of discussion in AARP Magazine.

And that's why I challenge the AIDS community—in cities, suburbs and rural areas—to hold listening sessions like the one I attended, to identify and address the critically important needs of those aging with HIV. Demand that HIV and AIDS are on the agenda for every government agency, every nonprofit organization, every healthcare provider and insurer serving senior citizens. And make grief support to long-time survivors a priority—individual therapy, groups, and online resources—to help them process the grief for their friends that is only now rising up, and give them the peace of mind they deserve.

Victoria Noe was a fundraiser in the Chicago AIDS community in what she refers to as the "Bad Old Days" and is the author of five books, including Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends. Her work has appeared in Windy City Times "AIDS@30" series, as well as Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune. She is a member of ACT UP NY's Women's Caucus. Her blog is www.FriendGrief.com .


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Larry Kramer gives us one more chance to wake the f*ck up 2019-07-10 - Our friend Larry Kramer, the godfather of the AIDS activism movement, hasn't lost his edge. That should surprise no one. In his speech ...


Gay News

Moments in the Public Health Response to AIDS, CDPH LGBTQ Outreach Keynote June 28 2019-07-01 - Chicago Department of Public Health LGBTQ Outreach Keynote Speech, given by Tracy Baim, June 28, 2019, Chicago Cultural Center The following keynote speech ...


Gay News

Looking back, looking forward 2019-06-26 - As we look forward to the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and celebrate PRIDE month, I think about progress made—but also about work ...


Gay News

We remember, we celebrate, we believe 2019-06-18 - There is a lot of remembering, celebrating and believing going on right now. The "uprising" at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago represents ...


Gay News

LETTER Respecting elders 2019-06-18 - Dear Editor: No one likes to talk about it, but it happens every day. However, this crisis remains vastly underidentified and underreported. ...


Gay News

CONCERT REVIEWS X and The Damned, Gogol Bordello, Bettye Lavette and more 2019-06-17 - If the concert scene in Chicago this past May was characterized by gloom, dampness and a scarcity of choices, the shows in June ...


Gay News

New report reviews laws, policies affecting LGBTs in U.S. territories 2019-06-11 - ( Boulder, CO ) June 11, 2019—Progress towards full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) people in the United ...


Gay News

Vatican publishes anti-LGBT document 2019-06-10 - The Vatican has released the document "Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender in ...


Gay News

Trans deaths are real deaths 2019-06-05 - In a suburb just outside of Dallas, and to the disbelief of many—straight and LGBTQ—across the country, a transgender mural is painted on ...


Gay News

Five reasons the Gilead deal is a steaming pile of Truvada 2019-05-22 - Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical that makes Truvada, the only FDA-approved drug for PrEP, is having a great week in the public relations department. ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.