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Living Positive Victoria has engaged its first ever Elder Peer Advocate to work within its existing Peer Navigator program to support people who are living with HIV 50 years and over.

The Peer Elder Advocate will address the social isolation that can increase as people grow older and to ensure that people remain connected to their communities and in appropriate clinical care. The position had been made possible through the ‘Gilead Together Grant Program’, for an initial period of 12 months.

Living Positive Victoria’s Peer Support Manager, Sara Graham, says, “The commencement of the role is timely, with the past 8 months being particularly difficult for older people living in Victoria. For many older people living with HIV, this is the second major pandemic they have experienced in their lifetimes. The Elder Peer Advocate will be a valuable member of the Peer Navigation Team and his experience, insight and compassion will bring invaluable strengths to his collaborations with our older members and our clinical and community partnerships to support the wellbeing of older Victorians living with HIV.”

The appointee, Richard, say he “was attracted to the role because of the opportunity to advocate and to promote the health and well-being of PLHIV aged 50 and above by helping them navigate existing and old health care pathways, navigate community support and better manage their HIV.
PLHIV aged 50 and above have been living with HIV for a long time, meaning many would be living with comorbidities, mental health issues, side effects of long-term treatment and isolation. I saw the role as an opportunity and privilege to be able to help these population group foster personal resilience, help to connect socially, help improve health literacy and overall wellbeing. I bring to the role real life lived experience, strong academic background in public health and working in HIV activism, advocacy, policy, and health promotion sector. I am also a compassionate, motivated, and enthusiastic individual, able to work confidently with diverse cultures and situations. I hope to utilise my skills, knowledge, and real-life experience to provide an individualized, outcome-focused service that supports PLHIV in navigating the complexity of HIV healthcare, community care, and aged care services.”