The 4th annual Aging Positively Conference kicked off at the Joslyn Senior Center on Wednesday. The conference brought resources and information on the community along with 4 time gold medal Olympic champion, Greg Louganis, as the keynote speaker.
Guest Speaker, Greg Louganis, also called the greatest diver in history raises awareness not only to the community but also to a younger generation. Many remember his head injury during his Olympic preliminary that brought spotlight to his incident. Six months prior to the Olympic games in 1988, he was diagnosed HIV positive, and he says there wasn’t compassion surrounding HIV and AIDS especially when he was competing in Seoul, South Korea.
“I was in a country that if they had known about my HIV status. I would not allowed into that country, so we had to keep it a secret,” says Louganis.
He explains that people who were diagnosed as HIV positive didn’t have hope to living longer lives and in most cases it was death sentence.
“That’s what the prognosis was..two years after the HIV diagnosis…you know people were dying,” says Louganis.
But now times have changed and society has come a long way. Through research, people with HIV are living longer lives through scientific research and medical treatments. About 50 % of individuals that are HIV positive in the U.S. are age 50 or above.
“With the advances, we have had in HIV treatment now we are aging,” says Louganis.
As part of National HIV & Aging Awareness Day, Major health care organizations in the Coachella Valley passing out information on available resources. Desert AIDS project is one of the partners for the conference. They offer care in medical, dental, counseling, social services, supportive groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health, wellness services.
One of the attendees, Frank Failing, from Palm Springs discovered he was HIV positive last year.
“It’s very easy to get the information if you’re interested. Don’t be afraid to step up and find out,” says Failing.
The Aging and Positvely Conference is conceived and sponsored by medical and service providers, researchers, community groups, and media groups from the Coachella Valley: Borrego Health, Desert Arc, Desert AIDS project, Desert Care Network, Desert Oasis Healthcare, Eisenhower Health, Gay Desert Guide, HIV + Aging Research Project-Palm Springs, Jewish Family Service of the Desert, Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs (LKAPS), PromoHomo.TV, The DOCK, The LBGTQ Community Center of the Desert (aka The Center), The Joslyn Center.