National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 20th, 2011
Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Indian Health Service
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2011
This Sunday, March 20, marks the 5th observance of National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This day is set aside to acknowledge that HIV continues to threaten the health and well-being of our Native communities and to encourage all of us to support and advocate for HIV education and services.
American Indians and Alaska Natives rank third in the rate of new HIV infections, as compared to all other races and ethnicities. We know that HIV/AIDS exists in urban and rural populations, yet many Native people with HIV are not aware of their status. American Indians and Alaska Natives face greater health disparities and risk factors for HIV, such as higher rates of substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections. These statistics illuminate the need to raise awareness about HIV and demonstrate the need for ongoing initiatives that help make HIV testing, education, and health care a routine part of our health services.
For the first time since the beginning of this epidemic, the United States has a National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Federal agencies, including the Indian Health Service, recently released detailed operational plans for implementing this collaborative strategy within their agencies. These operational plans describe the steps to be taken to meet our goals of reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.
I would like to thank the dedicated members of the Indian health system who work diligently to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in the communities we serve. We all need to work together to stop this disease. I encourage you to educate yourself and your community about how HIV is spread, prevented, and treated. For information about HIV and AIDS, please visit AIDS.gov, or find a testing center near you.
If you would like to join our IHS, Tribal and Urban HIV Listserve, please visit the IHS Listserve site.
If you would like more information about community activities and initiatives surrounding National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, please contact our colleagues at Commitment to Action for 7th-Generation Awareness & Education: HIV/AIDS Prevention Project (CA7AE: HAPP) for these valuable resources.