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Press Release
CDC Celebrates National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 19, 2010

March 20, 2010 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. On this day, we recognize the impact of HIV/AIDS in Native populations, and encourage increased efforts for HIV prevention and care among Native peoples, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. It is essential for our national HIV prevention efforts that members of Native populations take a leading role in learning more about HIV/AIDS, getting tested, and getting involved in HIV prevention at both local and national levels.

Historically, Native communities have suffered from increased health disparities, including HIV infection and AIDS. For example, in 2007 in 34 states with confidential name-based HIV reporting:

Further, in 2006, American Indians and Alaska Natives had the third highest estimated rate of new HIV infections (14.6/100,000) in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Race and ethnicity are not, by themselves, risk factors for HIV infection. However, American Indians and Alaska Natives face challenges that have been associated with increased risk for HIV infection, including poverty, substance use, discrimination, and limited access to prevention and care services. Additionally for American Indians and Alaska Natives, life expectancy is shorter than that for persons of other races/ethnicities in the United States; the rates of many diseases, including diabetes, tuberculosis, and alcoholism are higher; and access to health care is poorer. Many of these same issues also affect Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. These factors further demonstrate the increased vulnerability of Native populations to additional health issues, including HIV infection, and point to the crucial need for increased awareness, access to services, and linkage to care.

We hope this day will raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among persons native to the United States. CDC supports efforts to reduce the health disparities experienced in Native communities that are at high risk for HIV through CDC-funded prevention programs that state, territorial, and local health departments and community-based organizations provide for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. These programs aim to help tribes and local communities expand HIV prevention services and improve services for persons infected with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS; build and strengthen the capacity of tribal organizations, local communities, and urban Indian health centers throughout the United States to develop effective HIV prevention through networking and collaboration; provide HIV prevention education in Native communities; and support implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention interventions.

On this fourth annual NNHAAD, CDC reminds partners that getting tested for HIV is crucial since early diagnosis of HIV increases opportunities for treatment and prevention, and allows Native people to live longer, healthier lives. For more information on NNHAAD, please visit www.happ.colostate.edu/nad.html. Thank you for your commitment to HIV prevention.




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