Golden Compass

Helping People with HIV Navigate their Golden Years


People with HIV are living longer, healthier lives in the era of antiretroviral treatment (ART).

In San Francisco, over 60% of all people living with HIV are age 50 and older. Despite these successes, aging with HIV or later life diagnosis can bring new challenges. HIV can increase the risk of conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis (thin bones), memory problems and cancer. These and other aging-related conditions may occur in HIV-positive adults at younger ages than HIV-negative adults. Older adults with HIV often face mental health issues like depression and may feel isolated from losing friends in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As a result, Ward 86 launched Golden Compass in 2017. The program focuses on four “points” (related to compass directions) that serve the medical and psychosocial needs of people over 50 living with HIV. The program provides multidisciplinary medical care on-site along with other comprehensive services, some of which are outlined below.

NORTH — Heart and Mind: A cardiologist with expertise in HIV now sees patients at Ward 86 in a designated HIV Cardiology Clinic; Memory concerns are evaluated and a class to learn about brain and memory with some practical tips on improving memory is held regularly.

EAST — Bones and Strength: Exercise classes for PLWH Age 50 or older are offered, focusing on preventing falls and supporting bone health.

WEST — Dental, Hearing and Vision: Ward 86 helps link people to the appropriate screenings and services.

SOUTH — Network and Navigation: A monthly support group provides an opportunity to come together, share experiences, and relieve loneliness.

For more information or to contribute to this initiative, contact [email protected] or (628) 206-2473.