INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When you get older sometimes you start to deal with more health complications.
It can be more worrisome for people dealing with HIV/AIDS on top of their age-related challenges.
Leslie Shaw has been living with HIV for half of his life.
“I believe it was February 19th and they immediately wanted me to go into treatment,” Shaw said.
It was that day in 1987 Shaw found out he was HIV positive.
“They took a photograph of you because it was all anonymous and then you had to come in a few weeks later. They told me that I was positive,” Shaw said.
At the time of Shaw’s diagnosis, the virus was something you didn’t speak of. He didn’t seek treatment until the year 2000.
“I have a little bit of remorse because I lost so many friends and I don’t know why I was the one to last,” Shaw said.
Now he’s undetectable, sees a doctor every 6 months, and takes medication to control the virus.
The Damien Center’s president and CEO Alan Witchey says as you get older the way you treat HIV can change.
“As you get older HIV can react differently in your body. Sometimes you have different issues related to aging. There can be different diseases and conditions that evolve,” Witchey said.
Wednesday is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. The Damien Center is encouraging people to get tested.
“Often times people don’t think about HIV impacting people over 50 but over half of the cases of HIV are with people over 50,” Witchey said.
Shaw has learned to live with HIV.
“My doctor; he’s probably more concerned with me having a stroke or maybe having a heart attack just due to my age,” Shaw said.
He continues to grow wiser each year.
“I cannot believe that I am 62-years-old sitting here talking about being positive for half my life,” Shaw said.
The Damien Center offers free HIV testing and helps with patients with getting their medications.
This Sunday is the Indiana AIDS walk. The fundraiser helps raises money for aid and direct care for people living with HIV.