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Helping Kick AIDS

Central Texas HIV/AIDS and Aging Coalition, a collaboration of leading local social service organizations, is doing what once seemed impossible: helping people with HIV/AIDS grow old gracefully. The Austin Community Foundation plays a key role to make it happen.

More than 30 years have passed since the emergence of HIV/AIDS which caused the death of 30 million people worldwide. Now, thanks to a combination of antiretroviral drugs, HIV is a manageable long-term condition. More than five thousand people in Central Texas are living with HIV/AIDS—and about 1,300 of them are over age 55.
 
Five years ago, the Central Texas HIV/AIDS and Aging Coalition, a collaboration of leading local social service organizations, formed to raise awareness about older adults aging with HIV/AIDS. The Foundation provides back-office services to facilitate the group’s annual symposium that educates and inspires hundreds of Central Texas social workers, physicians, nurses and care managers. One role the Foundation plays to address community issues is to facilitate collaborations such as this, serving as a central hub for resources, communication and ideas.

The symposium, which takes place each May, addresses issues of people aging with HIV. This year’s meeting had a special focus on AIDS Survivor Syndrome (ASS). Many people living with HIV have outlived friends, loved ones and support networks resulting in depression, anxiety and other physical and psychological symptoms. This year’s keynote speaker Tez Anderson is the founder of Let’s Kick ASS, a grassroots movement of long-term survivors honoring the unique and profound experience of living through the AIDS epidemic. Tez shared his story as an AIDS survivor and as a result of the symposium the Austin Let’s Kick ASS chapter was created. 

To learn more about the Coalition, visit the HIV/AIDS and Aging Coalition or like the coalition’s Facebook page. If you consider yourself a long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS, and/or you are newly navigating an HIV diagnosis at 50 or older, consider joining Let’s Kick ASS-Austin.