Art exhibit opening in SF seeks to break stigma of aging with HIV 

San Francisco resident Greg Muhasay was diagnosed with HIV in 1989. For years, he lived in fear of being judged for his condition.

Today, however, the 54-year-old has a more positive outlook.

“I spent so many years in fear of having to deal with stigma,” Muhasay said in a statement. “I’ve become confident enough to not care anymore, and I think that comes with aging.”

This week, Muhasay and other Bay Area residents will share their experiences of aging with HIV as part of the mobile art exhibit “Well Beyond HIV” that was curated in collaboration with Walgreens and The Graying of AIDS project, which involves the stories of people over 50 living with HIV.

The exhibit, which will be shown at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center at 1800 Market St. from Thursday through Saturday, depicts the challenges and triumphs through portraits and interviews of those over 50 living with HIV.

“In the early days [of the HIV epidemic] it was such a struggle to get people healthier and well,” said Glen Pietrandoni, senior director of virology, specialty products and services for the Walgreen Co. “To see the progress in medicine and the progress that people have made over time, to see them thriving now, it’s an opportunity to celebrate and highlight their story and amplify their voices.”

San Francisco has one of the largest HIV-positive populations in the U.S., with an estimated 15,901 people living with the virus – more than 50 percent of whom are over 50.

The art exhibit features stories of those learning to embrace their diagnoses in an effort to inspire others to live healthier, more open lives, and start a dialogue about the challenges and stigmas of aging with HIV.

Stigma is a particular concern among older people with HIV because they may already feel isolated due to their illness or loss of family and friends, experts said. Stigma may prevent them from seeking HIV care and disclosing their status.

The exhibit made its first stop in Miami in January. It will continue to travel throughout the U.S. after leaving San Francisco.

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About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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