Increasing Knowledge of HIV

HIV AIDS awareness day for native communities

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) will be celebrated on March 20 in Native communities across the country.

The focus of the annual day is to increase HIV testing and education among Native groups, specifically American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.

According to data provided by the NNHAAD organizers, the third and fourth highest rates of new HIV infections occur in Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPIs) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). 

"Get tested for HIV, no matter what your ethnicity."

"In 2008, the rate was 22.85 per 100,000 persons for NHOPIs and 11.9 per 100,000 for AI/ANs, compared to 73.7 for Black/African Americans, 25.0 for Hispanic/Latinos, 8.2 for Whites, and 7.2 for Asians," reports the NNHAAD official website.

High rates aside, the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC) stresses that testing for HIV needs to increase drastically in these communities.

"Despite high rates of new HIV infections, 59 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives have never been tested for HIV. Over 70 percent of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders have never been tested for HIV," reports NNAAPC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note the importance of culturally unique approaches to education and awareness of HIV/AIDS, like those aimed for by NNHAAD organizers.

"The American Indian and Alaska Native population makes up 562 federally recognized tribes plus at least 50 state-recognized tribes," reports the CDC. "[P]revention programs that can be adapted to individual tribal cultures and beliefs are critically important."

To this point, NNHAAD organizers say that the symbolic first day of spring was chosen for the awareness day based on a common thread in various Native cultures, a thread recognizing spring as a time for change and new beginnings.  

It is hoped that as education and testing increase among these different groups, the impact of HIV/AIDS on Native communities and the stigma associated with the disease will decline. 

NNHAAD is organized as a joint effort by the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, CA7AE: HIV/AIDS Prevention Project – Colorado State University, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. and the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 19, 2013
Last Updated:
May 15, 2014