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Maine Voices: National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day marks progress, challenges

September 21, 2016

By Leslie Clark and John Hennessy  |   Special to the Portland Press Herald 

Maine groups are helping caregivers and patients deal with the unintended consequences of the drugs that have allowed people to live longer with HIV.

A little over 35 years ago, a small group of men gathered in New York City to take action when no one else knew quite what to do. The men were reacting to the first story published by The New York Times on a disease that usually struck older patients but was killing men as young as 26 – a story with the headline “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.

It was at this point that Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first AIDS service organization, was created, and the fight was on.

On Sunday, the country recognizes National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. On this day, people living with HIV, advocates, health care providers and survivors honor that brave group who refused to be silent.

The care and treatment of HIV have changed rapidly over the last 35 years. A diagnosis that was once a death sentence is now a very treatable chronic disease. Life expectancy for people living with HIV has increased with access to better therapy.

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