In June of this year the Centre for Disease Control in the United States commemorated the 30th anniversary of the first reported case of HIV/AIDS.

Over the three decades since then we have seen lives lost, new infections, and momentous gains in treatment and prevention, but as yet, no cure.

As a result of these advances, the face of the epidemic has shifted, most significantly with the advent of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART), and has changed the face of what support services mean for those living with HIV/AIDS.

But many Victorians living with HIV/AIDS may remember the time before the advent of HAART in the mid-1990s, and may find that their experience of living with this virus differs significantly from those more recently infected.

The prognosis at time of diagnosis, the context of HIV in the community, and the impacts of long term treatment back in the days before HAART can be quite different than what is experience by those diagnosed today.

Many of us may wonder what issues there could be – hasn’t HAART been a blessing for people living with HIV/AIDS? While this indeed may be true for many who are on successful HAART treatment, the context of HIV/AIDS shifting from a death sentence to a chronic manageable disease comes with a great deal of change.

As the face of the epidemic changes, where do those who were infected before the days of HAART turn to for peer support?

To provide support around these issues, Positive Health, the counselling services of the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre, are facilitating an eight week support group for men diagnosed with HIV prior to 1995, starting this month.

The group will provide a confidential space for people with a long-term HIV diagnosis to talk about how the virus has shaped their lives, and talk to others about the ongoing issues and strategies in the context of living with the virus for over 15 years.

with JASON ASSELIN
Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre

INFO: contact Judith Gorst or Trish Thompson on 9865 6700 or email [email protected]

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