HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day Date in the current year: June 5, 2024

HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day is observed annually on June 5. It was created to celebrate the resilience and strength of people living with HIV for decades while highlighting their needs, issues and challenges.

HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day (HLTSAD) was started in 2014 by Tez Anderson, a long-term survivor who was diagnosed with HIV in 1983 and became an AIDS activist in 1986. The lead sponsor of the day is Let’s Kick ASS – AIDS Survivor Syndrome, a non-profit that Anderson founded in 2013 to improve quality of life for people living with HIV, fight ageism and stigma, and raise awareness of the needs of older adults with HIV.

HLTSAD is observed on June 5 because on this day in 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported five cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia, a rare lung infection, in young, previously healthy gay men. This was the first official reporting of what will later be identified as the HVI/AIDS epidemic.

Originally named GRID (gay-related immune deficiency), the syndrome was renamed AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) in 1982, when researchers realized it was not isolated to the gay community. The AIDS virus was discovered in 1983 by two separate research groups in different countries. Three years later, it was proven that the two groups discovered the same virus, and it received the name human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

During the first few years of the epidemic, the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was a death sentence. However, the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has transformed HIV into a manageable chronic condition, at least in countries where most patients have access to antiretroviral therapy. HIV drugs make it possible for people with HIV to live far longer lives than several decades ago. Those who have been living with HIV for many years are often referred to as long-term survivors (LTS).

The term “HIV long-term survivors” has several definitions. One definition of LTS refers to those who have been living with HIV for more than ten years. According to another definition, long-term survivors are people who acquired HIV before the advent of HAART in 1996. The latter are sometimes referred to as pre-HAART LTS, while those who were diagnosed after 1996 and have been living with HIV for more than a decade are referred to as post-HAART LTS.

There are 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, and about a quarter of them are pre-HAART long-term survivors. They are a distinct group of people living with HIV because they face unique challenges such as the combination of HIV and aging that makes their routine medical care more difficult, AIDS survivor syndrome, treatment fatigue, comorbid health conditions, and more.

The main goal of HLTSAD is to support and celebrate HIV long-term survivors, especially post-HAART LTS, raise awareness of their unique challenges and needs, and bring together stakeholders to improve the quality of life and access to healthcare services, including mental health care, for older adults living with HIV.

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