HIV AND THE AGEING POPULATION

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Conference
2015 National LGBT Conference
Date
18 September 2015
Decision

Conference welcomes the advances made in the treatment of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the consequent increase in life expectancy of those living with HIV so that they are now expected to have a normal life span.

This has exposed a whole set of new challenges for the HIV+ community as they face the physical and social aspects of advancing age. Many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have been helped by the services provided by the National Health Service (NHS) and voluntary sector groups for support in living with HIV, support which is always under threat of funding cuts.

Much of this support has been targeted and specialised, with providers having knowledge and awareness of the issues and needs facing people living with HIV. However, Conference is concerned that, as the ageing HIV+ population seek to access wider social care, providers may lack understanding of or empathy with their needs.

The ageing HIV+ population are finding themselves facing once again questions of disclosure and confidentiality of their status, and fears of stigma, ignorance and misunderstanding of their condition, as they find themselves increasingly having to access general practitioner (GP) and home and residential care services.

UNISON has longstanding policies in favour of integration of health and social care, funded from taxation and free at the point of need, but conference considers that unless equality objectives are effectively addressed, there is a risk that old prejudices against HIV+ people could be revived.

Conference therefore calls upon the National LGBT Committee to work with the National Executive Council, the National Retired Members Committee, the National Disabled Members Committee, other self organised groups and relevant service group executives to call for:

1. The needs of older people living with HIV to be included in training for staff who assess or undertake social care;

2. These issues to be included in discussions on the integration of health and social care;

3. The maintenance of resources for peer support networks, and

4. Dialogue between groups working with older people and those living with HIV.