Drawn to the gay-friendly, poz-welcoming community and perpetually sunny desert a few hours east of Los Angeles, long-term survivors have flocked to the Palm Springs area over the last several years. That’s the subject of the documentary film Desert Migration and one of the reasons the Chicago-based Positively Aware magazine chose Palm Springs for the location of “The Reunion Project,” a celebration of survival and opportunity for long-term survivors to share their own HIV stories on November 3, 2015.
Desert Migration, directed and produced by Daniel Cardone, opens the summit before having its official premiere later in the week at the Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs. Desert Migration is a project of the HIV Story Project, a San Francisco based non-profit organization founded in 2009 to create and support films by and for the HIV positive community.
Meanwhile, The Reunion Project, was created for long-term survivors of HIV to share their stories of loss and survival. While honoring the past the project aims to help identify and develop successful strategies for those living with HIV, especially as they age. It’s estimated that 50 percent of people living with HIV are over the age of 50 and heading into uncharted territory. This is raising concerns about whether services are in place to ensure successful outcomes for older people living with HIV, who are facing a wide range of issues around mental health, housing, and financial hardships.
A similar summit was held earlier this year in Chicago and over 100 people attended. Positively Aware editor Jeff Berry called the summit, “an amazing opportunity for people to come together and work together as a community to help each other as they age. The Reunion Project isn’t just a one-day event. After the day is over we hope to gain a better understanding of what the community’s needs and wants are, so that we can work on ways to better address those issues.”
Berry will be speaking at the summit, along with:
- Jeff Taylor of the Positive Life Series
- Daniel Cardone, Director of the film Desert Migration
- Dr. Rick Loftus on the HIV and aging Project GRACIE
- Gregg Cassin, Honoring Our Experience / Shanti Project
- Phil Curtis of AIDS Project Los Angeles
- Chris Brown from the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center
- Dr. Jill Gover of the LGBT Center in Palm Springs
- Drs. Ron Stahl, Michael Plankey, and James Egan on resilience and HIV long term survivors
- Nick Nicholas on coping strategies
- Drs. Ron Ellis and David Moore of University of California San Diego (collaborating with Desert AIDS Project on an HIV aging study)
The summit is co-sponsored by Test Positive Aware Network in Chicago and its national HIV treatment magazine Positively Aware, The Positive Life Series of Jewish Family Service of the Desert in Palm Springs , and supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the pharmacuteical company Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Held Tuesday, November 3, 9 AM to 5 PM, the summit will be at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences in the Eisenhower campus in Rancho Mirage, California. A complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be served. To register for The Reunion Project Palm Springs visit EventBrite, RSVP or call 760-835-1926 no later than October 27, 2015.