Clinicians, activists, people living with HIV, and other stakeholders gathered on February 3, 2017 to mark the official opening of Golden Compass, an innovative clinic for older adults with HIV in San Francisco. The clinic, at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, is among the first of its kind in the United States. The clinic offers 1) services from a geriatrician trained in infectious disease care including HIV 2) medication reviews by a pharmacist, and 3) support groups, memory, and exercise classes that target older adults with HIV age 50 and over. Currently, 60% of people living with HIV in San Francisco have reached age 50.
Meredith Greene, MD, associate director of Golden Compass, states there are no other clinics for older adults with HIV providing the breadth of services that her clinic will be offering. The Golden Compass name, suggested by patients, represents four domains of care: north, heart and mind; east, bones and strength; west, dental, hearing, and vision; and south, social network and navigation. “I hope that over time the clinic will serve as an example for others – that they will also be able to create clinics and programs dedicated to meeting the unique needs of PLWH [people living with HV] over age 50,” Greene says.
During the Golden Compass opening, Jeff Sheehy, an HIV-positive activist newly appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, remarked on the urgency of meeting the needs of older adults with HIV, saying, “We have a crisis.” This issue will be a priority for him during his term as supervisor, he promised. Cleve Jones, a long-term survivor who conceived of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, recalled the many times he was convinced all was lost: when he contemplated suicide at 15, when his mentor Harvey Milk was assassinated, when he was diagnosed with HIV, when he lost friends again and again and again, and when he became deathly ill himself. At 62, Jones told the gathered crowd, he’s still “ready to fight.”
Two Golden Compass patients addressed the crowded event. One patient, in her 70s, who has lived with HIV for over a quarter century, concluded her remarks by executing an impressive split. Another patient described the personal care he has received from the Zuckerberg General Hospital’s HIV program and commented, “Golden Compass is going to help me age gracefully.”
The Golden Compass site is https://hiv.ucsf.edu/care/aging.html
Rebecca Erenrich, MPH
Research and Community Engagement Coordinator
ACRIA San Francisco Offices