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Fort Worth HIV survivors defy disease that once ensured death by growing old together

Group of HIV survivors meet weekly in Fort Worth, "It's more of a family vibe"
Group of HIV survivors meet weekly in Fort Worth, "It's more of a family vibe" 02:41

FORT WORTHHIV and AIDS used to be a death sentence for many in the 80s and 90s. But thanks to decades of research and development, more than half of people living with the virus today are over the age of 50.

Bo Evans/CBS News Texas

One group of survivors gathers weekly at a house in Fort Worth that they fondly refer to as "the clubhouse." They call themselves the Seasoned Survivors.

 "I like it here. I like the comradery. It's more of a family vibe," said Valencia Landry.

Everyone in the group has at least a few things in common: They're all over 50 and they've all been diagnosed with HIV for more than 10 years.   

Douglas Ford said his diagnosis in the mid-80s was scary, and that his mother was scared to death when he told her.

"I didn't expect to see my 25th birthday," Ford said. 

Edward Reed was diagnosed around the same time.

"When I first found out about it in the 80s, of course, for a lot of people, that was really thought of as a death sentence," said Reed. 

Back then, the diagnosis was as good as a signed note from the executioner.

"The day I found out, I was devastated. I cried because I could just see myself not living beyond maybe a few years or maybe a few months," said Reed. 

"I've lost count of how many [people] have passed," said Ford. 

But a disease that used to mean certain death has changed. Ford said improved treatments have allowed him – and others – to grow old.

The development of new medicine has made the disease manageable. It's brought laughter back to people like Reed.

"Believe it or not, there was a time when I was in such a dark place that I could not laugh, I could not laugh at all. I had no laughter whatsoever," Reed said. "So, it's wonderful for me to be able to laugh now."

In 2024, at the clubhouse, the room is full of laughter.

If you're living with HIV and want to find out more about the Seasoned Survivors, you can visit the aids outreach center website at

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