New Mexico: HIV/AIDS Awareness Comes Late to Navajoland
May 19, 2010
Students and staff at Navajo Technical College acknowledged National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day by hosting a health fair and gourd dance on March 26.
Approximately 200 people attended the event in Crownpoint, which included an appearance by Miss Navajo Nation Tashina C. Nelson of Round Rock, Ariz. "It went really well," said Angie Perry, an NTC counselor. A grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration paid for the outreach.
Perry enlisted five NTC students to help organize the event. Jayna Roper, one of those students, handed out HIV/AIDS pamphlets and answered questions about the virus. "Most people don't know what the symptoms are. They don't know specific information," she noted.
Ronnadette Tanner, a health educator with the Navajo AIDS Network Inc., opened her talk with an offer of free rapid HIV testing, telling people the NAN offices in Gallup and Chinle have an "open door policy," and encouraging them to get screened. In 2008, NAN recorded three HIV cases. In 2009, more than 30 people tested positive, she told attendees.
Tanner said her organization's numbers are in line with those of the Indian Health Service. Too many people are still not aware HIV/AIDS is a threat to Native Americans, she said.
"[The virus] is a real sensitive subject," said Tanner. "I found out that a lot of our Native people aren't really open about STDs, HIV and AIDS."
"Our job is prevention," Tanner continued. "It's all about helping our people out there when they really need it."
Navajo Times (Window Rock, Arizona)
04.01.2010; Erny Zah
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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.