From Our 2013 Archives
March 20, 2013 Is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
On March 20, we recognize the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. This 7th national observance is our chance to raise awareness of the risks of HIV to Native people, to help communities understand what contributes to those risks, and to encourage individuals to get tested for HIV.
CDC recommends that adults and adolescents get tested for HIV as least once as a routine part of medical care. People at increased risk should get an HIV test at least every year. Sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) might benefit from HIV testing every 3 to 6 months. Women should get an HIV test each time they are pregnant.
HIV in Native Communities
Overall, approximately 20% of HIV-infected Americans do not know they are infected, while among AIs and ANs this figure is 25%. AIs and ANs diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS have one of the shortest survival times of all ethnic or racial groups, suggesting that they may be diagnosed late in the course of their infection or have limited access to care. This highlights the need to educate AIs and ANs on the facts about HIV prevention and access to basic health care services.
Lack of access to basic health care services, stigma associated with gay relationships and HIV, barriers to mental health care, and high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and poverty all increase the risk of HIV in Native communities and create obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment.
The reasons Native people are burdened by HIV are not directly related to race or ethnicity but rather to some of the challenges faced by many communities across the country. To address this epidemic, we must confront the factors that continue to place Native people at risk of contracting HIV, including circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age, as well as the systems put in place to deal with illness.
Through partnerships with community-based organizations, native communities are working to increase effective HIV/AIDS prevention activities and encourage early detection through testing. By using culturally competent HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, we can limit the spread of this devastating disease in Native communities.
SOURCE: CDC, March 20, 2013.