Long Term HIV Survivors Awareness Day 2022

Sunday, June 5 marks Long-Term HIV Survivors Awareness Day (#HLTSAD) 2022. This year’s theme is “Step Up to Thrive: Prioritize Quality of Life”.

Longtime survivor Tez Anderson and advocacy group Let’s Kick ASS—AIDS Survivor Syndrome launched the day of awareness in 2014. Based in San Francisco, Let’s Kick ASS aims to empower long-term HIV survivors to s flourish.

As organizers of #HLTSAD, the folks at Let’s Kick ASS describe AIDS Survivor Syndrome in the short video below, filmed at the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco:

At HLTSAD.org, organizers outline some priorities, define “long-term survivors,” and provide historical context for the annual awareness day:

HLTSAD is an opportunity to raise awareness that leads to action. We do not have the luxury of waiting for the government to do the right thing. We are tired. We are old. But we can still kick ass.

The selection of June 5 for this annual celebration coincides with the anniversary of the first official report of what has become known as the AIDS epidemic on June 5, 1981. When the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] reports for the first time five cases of a mysterious disease affecting young homosexuals. June 5, 1981 is considered the start of the AIDS pandemic.

Today, long-term HIV survivors (HLTS) represent a diverse group of people diagnosed with HIV before the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART in 1996. We represent approximately 25% of all people living with HIV and AIDS. 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States. That’s about 300,000 long-term survivors, defined as people who contracted HIV before 1996 and the introduction of HAART.

Often overlooked, HLTS includes people born with HIV or who contracted the virus as babies and are now in their 30s and 40s. HLTS are also those who have been living with HIV and AIDS for more than 25 years.

We are developing a social media campaign and concrete calls to action to improve the quality of our lives.

It’s up to us to fix our action plan addressing current and future needs, issues and challenges faced by people living the longest with HIV/AIDS.

We have waited long enough.

HLTSAD is not the time to dwell on our traumatic pasts. (It’s for World AIDS Day.) Our goal over the next few months is for YOU to set our agenda and priorities for moving forward and taking action to bring about change.

People living with HIV/AIDS deserve to age with dignity.

A few priorities

  • Make the quality of life of long-term HIV survivors and older people aging with HIV and AIDS a real priority
  • Demand universal access to treatment to help end the HIV epidemic, is the #JourneyTo400K campaign message from the team that created Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (#UequalsU)
  • Prioritize culturally appropriate mental health care
  • Overcoming the Challenges of Poverty and Economic Insecurity
  • Combat discrimination and invisibility towards older people living with HIV and AIDS. This is called “ageism”. We will not tolerate it.

For a collection of related articles in POZ, click on #Long-Term Survivors. Don’t miss the “Tool Time” article, on the Reunion Project’s Toolkit for Long-Term Survivors webinar series.

And don’t miss the POZ Basics “HIV and Aging” page. To learn more about other HIV Awareness Days, including a calendar you can download and print, visit 2022 HIV/AIDS Awareness Days.


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