The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Defying the Odds: End the Rise of HIV/AIDS in Native American Communities

By Charlie Galbraith

March 18, 2011

This article was cross-posted from the blog.

HIV remains a highly stigmatized condition. It is a serious medical condition and people still die of AIDS. Nonetheless, we have highly effective treatments for people living with HIV and better tools than ever before to prevent infection. As uncomfortable as it may be for some people to talk about HIV and AIDS, discussing the basic facts about transmission, testing, and treatment are essential to stopping this epidemic in its tracks. That is why on Sunday, March 20th, we will commemorate the fifth annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to educate and encourage American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) to take action to stop the spread of this disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that American Indians and Alaska Natives represent less than 1 percent of those living with HIV. However, these communities continue to be impacted by HIV. CDC surveillance data show that from 2006 through 2009, the estimated annual rate of HIV diagnosis increased among AI/AN people. In 2009, the estimated rate of HIV diagnosis was 9.8 per 100,000, higher than the rate for white and Asian Americans. Additionally, the CDC estimates that approximately 26% of AI/AN people living with HIV are unaware of their infection. Once diagnosed with AIDS, AI/AN people are less likely to survive compared to HIV-positive individuals in other communities.

Much can be gained through the continued promotion of preventive measures such as routine HIV screenings. Culturally sensitive prevention programs exist across the country, including many services in urban areas with a high Native population such as the Gallup Indian Medical Center, the Alaska Native Medical Center, and the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. These programs are part of a collaborative network sharing resources, ideas, and planning together to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The NHAS is the President's strategy to reduce HIV incidence, increase access to care, and reduce HIV-related health disparities.

This work involves cross-agency cooperation within the Federal government, including the recent CDC investment in a partnership with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to work directly with Tribes to adapt prevention and health promotion programs within AI/AN communities.The partnership compliments existing HIV resources at IHS while expanding our understanding of what works to reduce infections.

Raising awareness of HIV/AIDS throughout Indian Country is essential to reducing the stigma surrounding routine testing and treatment. HIV remains a serious disease, but is preventable. It is important to get the facts about HIV, get tested (the first step in protecting yourself and others from infections) and start an open and honest dialogue about HIV and AIDS in our communities.

Charlie Galbraith is the Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.

Get e-mail notifications every time Positive Policy is updated.

See Also
Native Americans & HIV/AIDS

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:
Positive Policy

Positive Policy is a multi-blogger forum for sharing developments in law, policy and activism relevant to people living with, working in and otherwise affected by HIV/AIDS.

Subscribe to Positive Policy:

Subscribe by RSSBy RSS ?

Subscribe by Email

Recent Posts:

View All Posts

A Brief Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed by's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of itself.