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How the Area Agency on Aging supports older adults living with HIV

The Area Agency on Aging is best known for that — aging. But in 1992, the agency received funding to support people living with HIV. It’s called HIV Care Directions, and today, some of those clients are now older adults, something they never expected to become. 

"Some people, especially those diagnosed early in the epidemic, didn't think they would be at this place in their life," explained Erica TeKampe, director of HIV Care Directions. "And so some people hadn't planned for living a long time. So they may not have the financial resources that they might have had, they might have had to use that money because they were out of work sooner than they expected."

Which brings us to HIV Care Directions.

"Our purpose is to connect individuals with HIV to medical care medications and every other social service that's going to help them live a long and healthy life," she explained. So services like transportation, financial help to cover medical costs and housing support. Tekamp says a lot has changed over these last 30 years.

"I remember people saying I was preparing to die, and now I have to prepare to live. And that always just has stuck with me about the change we've seen in HIV and the mind shift that people had to go through," she said. 

People like Eric Moore. He was 29 when he was diagnosed. 

"I wasn't even sure I was gonna make 35 at the time," he said.

He describes that shift TeKampe referred to as whiplash. 

"We moved from an average of what, five year survival [rate] to now we're looking at it at a normal lifespan," said Moore. 

TeKampe says they have served over 10,000 people living with HIV since they started 30 years ago. 

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.