Urges Renewed Focus on Critically Under-Served Communities
Washington, DC – Tuesday, March 20, marks the sixth annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report on HIV infections for 2010 makes clear, America’s native populations continue to be severely impacted by the this epidemic. NNHAAD provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the epidemic’s effects on this diverse and diffuse community, while encouraging American Indians and Alaska Natives to take control of their health by getting educated, getting tested, and speaking out against stigma.
American Indians and Alaska Natives have the third highest rate of HIV infection in the United States, behind African Americans and Latinos. What’s more, infection rates are actually increasing in these communities. Between 2007 and 2010, the rate of infection increased from approximately 9.1 per 100,000 to 9.7 per 100,000. Much of this rise stems from an increase in infections among the native Two Spirit and gay communities. Further, due to the potential for racial misclassification in reporting efforts, the true rate of infection for natives may be higher. American Indians and Alaska Natives also face significantly poorer health outcomes than other racial/ethnic groups.
In February, the National Minority AIDS Council hosted a meeting of native leaders from across the country to identify challenges and barriers to adequately addressing the HIV/AIDS needs of this community. The need to prioritize culturally tailored strategies to combat stigma and target increased resources to augment capacity building for native organizations, where two major themes of the discussion. It was also noted that much of America’s native population lives in rural communities, both on and off reservations, where HIV services may not be readily available. What’s more, where adequate screening and treatment services are available, many are hesitant to utilize them for fear of disclosure among small, tightknit communities.
“The National Minority AIDS Council is proud to stand with its American Indian and Alaska Native brothers and sisters in marking this important day,” said NMAC Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey. “America’s native peoples are a precious component of our nation’s social fabric, yet all too often they are left out of discussions on the issues that affect their health and lives. NMAC is committed to working with leaders in these communities, and the organizations that serve them, to address the devastating toll HIV/AIDS has had on this woefully underserved population. We will continue to fight for an end to the disparities facing all minority communities, including American Indians and Alaska Natives and will not rest until this epidemic has come to an end.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333