Washington, DC – Wednesday, March 20, marks the seventh annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD), a critical opportunity to raise awareness of this epidemic’s effects on this diverse and vibrant community and to encourage American Indians, Alaska Natives as well as Native Hawaiians to take control of their health by getting educated, getting tested, and speaking out against stigma.
Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have the third highest rate of HIV infection in the country, while American Indians and Alaska Natives have the fourth. Despite this, testing rates among these communities are alarmingly low. According to the National Center for Health Statistics over 70 percent of Native Hawaiians and almost 60 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have never received an HIV test. Delayed diagnosis of an HIV infection not only threatens the health of the individual, but also significantly increases the odds that he or she will transmit the virus to others. What’s more, limitations in reporting and surveillance data mean that the real impact of this epidemic on these communities is very likely underestimated.
“The National Minority AIDS Council is proud to stand with its American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian partners in marking this important day,” said NMAC Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey. “Because they account for a relatively small proportion of our overall population, America’s native peoples are all too often left out of the discussions that affect their health and lives. NMAC is committed to changing this and working with native leaders, and the organizations that serve them, to address the devastating toll HIV/AIDS has on these populations. We will continue to fight for an end to the disparities facing all minority communities, including American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians and will not rest until this epidemic has come to an end.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622, ex. 3330, firstname.lastname@example.org