POZ in its March issue published two articles on National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and HIV/AIDS among long-distance truck drivers in the U.S. Summaries appear below.
- "Native Soul": The article examines the HIV/AIDS situation among American Indians in recognition of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 20. HIV cases among American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities are estimated at 11.5 cases per 100,000 people -- 40% higher than cases among whites. Most American Indians avoid seeking testing and treatment because of concerns about discrimination and a lack of HIV/AIDS education, according to POZ. The Indian Health Service, which serves most American Indians, lacks the resources to provide adequate care for people living with HIV/AIDS, POZ reports. HIV/AIDS awareness efforts aimed at the population have increased during the past year, and a national conference on the issue, called "Embracing Our Traditions," was launched in 2006. However, some advocates say little has improved. "Nothing gets done," Kory Montoya, an HIV-positive New Mexico Apache who serves as interim executive director at a New Mexico AIDS service organization, said of developing programs and funding. He added, "People come and they want our input...[b]ut nothing gets done." Advocates say that more HIV-positive American Indians should begin speaking out to help increase awareness and raise funds. They also noted that reaching American Indians will require tailoring programs to their cultures, such as educating elders and incorporating tribal health techniques, POZ reports (Scott, POZ, March 2008).
- "The Long Haul": The article examines how the work and health care conditions of the two million long-distance truck drivers in the U.S. have increased their risk for HIV/AIDS. One survey conducted among the population showed one-third of the 71 men interviewed reported that they frequently had multiple sex partners, usually commercial sex workers. The survey also found that sex, alcohol and drugs were reported as widely used as "quick, effective stress relievers during downtime on long, lonely trips" and that truckers believed they were at low-risk of HIV, despite their high-risk lifestyles. Tim Anderson, project coordinator for the Trucker Health Project, said some researchers have been working for five years to educate drivers about safer sex and self empowerment. He said that political pressure has derailed research on the subject, adding, "People think HIV and truckers is a problem overseas, not here." Anderson also noted that it is common for married truckers to have sex with other men while on the road. In addition, there are "truck chasers," men who pursue drivers for sex. Anderson said he hopes to open clinics nationwide to help provide HIV/AIDS care and prevention for truck drivers (Leydorf, POZ, March 2008).
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2008 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.