U.S. communities will observe National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Wednesday, March 20, to honor American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians who are HIV-infected, affected otherwise by the disease, or who have died from HIV/AIDS. Native communities have the fourth highest incidence of HIV. CDC reports that in 2009, 3,702 American Indians were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and 2,387 were living with the virus. High HIV incidence among American Indians is attributed to poverty, lack of access to health education, discrimination in healthcare delivery, "cultural differences," and social stigma.
According to Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota's commissioner of health, 121 HIV-infected American Indians (70 males and 51 females) were living in Minnesota in 2011. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 221 HIV cases have been diagnosed among American Indians in Minnesota; 96 of these individuals have died.
The Minnesota Department of Health provides 27 community-based HIV programs through its STD and HIV Section and Office of Minority and Multicultural Health. To prevent the spread of HIV, Ehlinger recommended HIV testing; delaying or avoiding sexual activity; using condoms consistently and correctly; avoiding sharing needles for injection drug use, tattooing, or piercing; and adhering to HIV treatment.
On Wednesday, March 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Indigenous Peoples Task Force and the Indian Health Board will offer free, walk-in screenings for HIV, hepatitis C, blood pressure, and blood sugar at the All Nations Indian Church located at 1515 East 23rd Street, Minneapolis.
Information on National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2013 is available from www.nnhaad.org; Colorado State University's Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity at www.happ.colostate.edu; or the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center at www.nnaapc.org.
Interested parties may also find information about testing and referrals by calling the Minnesota AIDS Project at (612) 373-2437 or 1-800-248-2437.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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