Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

AIDS: 30 Years Later

Meet 6 unforgettable people over 50 living with HIV

Pamela Yelsky, 51. — Gavin Thomas

Pamela Yelsky

"Doctors had spent years telling me I had Epstein-Barr virus or leukemia or chronic fatigue syndrome," recalls Pamela Yelsky, 51, of Redondo Beach, California. "They didn't even think about AIDS until much later." That was ironic, since Yelsky's own stepson had the disease, contracted from tainted blood during surgery. Yelsky cared for that boy, Beau, even as years of shingles and yeast infections wore her down.

"Most women today don't feel they're at risk. All that denial is just shocking." — Pamela Yelsky, 51

In 1992, when diagnosed with AIDS, Yelsky realized she had contracted the virus at 21, through unprotected sex with a man she thought she'd marry. Yelsky got on the merry-go-round of harsh drugs then available, which would eat away at her bones, give her a humped back, and add 30 pounds of fat to her torso. Two years after her diagnosis, she was so sick that she had to stop working at her job as a loan auditor. Stepson Beau endured many of the same difficult treatments, and five years ago, at age 24, he succumbed to lymphoma brought on by HIV, a devastating blow for her and her husband, Jerry.

Three years ago Yelsky began a next-generation treatment called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a combination of drugs that target different parts of the virus. It does not work for every patient, but many enjoy renewed vigor and few side effects. For Yelsky, "it's a miracle," she says.

But she worries that improved treatments feed a sense of complacency about the disease, particularly among women. "Most women today don't feel they're at risk," says Yelsky, who speaks about HIV at high schools and colleges. "Seeing all that denial 30 years into the disease is just shocking."

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf

VISIT THE HEALTH SECTION

Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do