To mark National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, more than a dozen organizations join forces to present free conference on Tuesday, September 20th

A free community conference will offer local residents the opportunity to learn more about HIV and aging, with topics to include prevention, testing, treatment, social support, insurance, and more.

The Stay Healthy, Stay Lively HIV and Aging Community Conference will be held on Tuesday, September 20th at Mizell Senior Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. Doors open at 12:30PM, with presentations from 1:00-5:00PM.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

· A growing number of people aged 50 and older in the United States are living with HIV infection. People aged 55 and older accounted for over one-quarter (26%, 313,200) of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the United States in 2011.

· Many older people are sexually active and have many of the same risk factors for HIV infection as younger people, including a lack of knowledge about HIV and how to prevent it. When older adults have insufficient information about HIV transmission, their risk factors are intensified.

· Many older people may have HIV and not know it. Older people are less likely than younger people to get tested. Signs of HIV/AIDS can be mistaken for the aches and pains of normal aging. Other diseases common to aging that can mask the signs of HIV/AIDS.

· Healthcare providers do not always think to test older people for HIV/AIDS. Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to be diagnosed with HIV infection late in the course of their disease. This can lead to poorer health outcomes and shorter survival after an HIV diagnosis.

· People who are diagnosed early in their infection, and who get and stay on antiretroviral therapy (ART) can keep the virus under control, and live a long and healthy life.

More than a dozen community organizations are collaborating on the conference to mark National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. (While the national day is officially observed September 18, that date falls on a Sunday this year. Organizers therefore chose Tuesday, September 20th to increase community access.)

Conference topics will include Ask-the-Doctor Medical Info, AIDS Survivor Syndrome, Pre- & Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), health insurance coverage and social security benefits, behavioral health/social support, and recent research studies.

The conference will also feature an HIV and Aging Education Fair offering free information and resources and the opportunity for attendees to get their specific questions answered. Get Tested Coachella Valley test counselors will be on-hand to provide free and confidential HIV testing. The quick and pain-free oral swab tests deliver results in 20 minutes.

Collaborators presenting the conference include: Desert AIDS Project, The DOCK, Get Tested Coachella Valley, The Center, Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), Riverside County Office on Aging, Mizell Senior Center, Clinton Foundation, Joslyn Center, Jewish Family Service of the Desert, Coachella Valley Community Research Initiative (CVCRI), and Cathedral City Senior Center.

Speakers are scheduled to include: Patrick Michael Cohen, Staff Specialist, Senior Programs, Riverside County Office on Aging; Jeff Taylor, CVCRI; Eric Jannke, Let’s Kick ASS, with panelists George Mallory, Kerry Deal, and Timothy Brown; and, three specialists from Desert AIDS Project: David Morris, MD, Medical Director; Daniel Parker, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist; and Raven Mendez, PrEP Navigator. The conference moderator will be Tricia Gehrlein, Associate Director, Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

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