Vancouver centre gets $100K grant to support those aging with HIV

The grant goes to help combat food insecurity and social isolation for those aging with HIV in the Vancouver region.

Those aging with HIV face challenges related to aging, social isolation and stigma, advocates say

While improved care and treatment have allowed those with HIV to live longer lives, those aging with the disease still face social isolation and stigma. (Getty Images)

Vancouver's Dr. Peter Centre — a health centre dedicated to helping those with HIV/Aids —  has received a $100K grant to support a program to help elderly people aging with HIV.

Scott Elliott, the centre's executive director, said those aging with HIV face unique challenges.

"They're facing a lot of complications with the medications they're taking. They're managing a chronic disease that's really quite pervasive at the same time as managing aging in general," Elliott said.

While improved care and treatment have allowed those with HIV to live longer lives, those aging with the disease still face social isolation and stigma.

Randy Miller, a counsellor at the centre, says that's the primary issue the program is trying to address.

Hey says the program is free for people to drop in. The aging group — which has around 30 people with a core of 12 to 15 people that meet regularly — comes together one evening a week and participates in self-directed art and music therapy.

Then, Miller said, they come together to have a meal together.

"That really evokes a lot of emotion for people who have lost a lot of folks in their lives, who have different issues around taking food as a group," Miller said. " It really goes back to minimizing social isolation which is a really broad and encompassing thing."

Elliott says the program is unique in Canada and they are allowing the group to organically shape it with their own inputs and suggestions.

"Our hope is we can take a program like this, not just have it in Vancouver, but expand this knowledge into B.C. and the rest of Canada," he said.

At the end of 2014, an estimated 65,040 people were living with HIV in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

With files from Radio Canada