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National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Native American manGet tested, and get involved in HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

March 20, 2016, is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). This day is an opportunity for Native people across the United States to learn about HIV/AIDS, encourage HIV counseling and testing in Native communities, and help decrease the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

On March 20, we recognize the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians (collectively referred to as Native people) through the observance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This national observance, now in its 10th year, is sponsored by a coalition of partners who provide assistance to Native organizations, tribes, state health departments, and other organizations serving Native populations.

Observed annually on the spring equinox, NNHAAD is a national community mobilization effort designed to encourage American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians across the United States and territorial areas to get educated, get tested, and get involved in HIV prevention, care, and treatment. This year's theme is Hear Indigenous Voices.

HIV in Native Communities in the United States

Of the estimated 44,073 new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2014, one percent (222) were among AI/AN. Of those, 77% were men, and 22% were women. Of the estimated 170 HIV diagnoses among AI/AN men in 2014, most (84%, 142) were among gay and bisexual men. From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses increased 19% among AI/AN overall and 63% among AI/AN gay and bisexual men.1

Poverty and high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) contribute to the challenges. The stigma associated with gay relationships and HIV, barriers to mental health care, and high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, STDs, and poverty all increase the risk of HIV in Native communities and create obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment.

Native communities are working to overcome these barriers by increasing HIV/AIDS awareness, encouraging HIV testing, and promoting entry into medical care. CDC is working with communities to share stories, build awareness, and reduce the toll of HIV, for example:

CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care while those at increased risk should get an HIV test at least every year. HIV testing is vital and sexually active gay and bisexual men might benefit from HIV testing every 3 to 6 months. Women should also get an HIV test each time they are pregnant.

What Can You Do?

  • Visit the CDC HIV/AIDS website to learn:
    • The risk factors for getting HIV
    • High-risk behaviors
    • How to practice safer methods to prevent HIV infection
  • Get tested for HIV and encourage others to do the same. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), go to GetTested, or text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948). Home testing kits are available online or at a pharmacy. You may also find a testing location by visiting your local IHS Tribal or Urban facility, or through Indian Health Service.
  • Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues and on social media
    • When posting on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, please use the hashtag #NNHAAD
  • Sponsor an event.
    • Additional materials are available from the official National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day website (NNHAAD.org), Materials include posters, save the date cards, fact sheets, an NNHAAD tool kit, and public service announcements (PSAs). This year the celebrity PSAs are by Stefan Lessard of the Dave Matthews Band and Becky Hobbs, fifth granddaughter of Nancy Ward, Beloved Woman.
Stefan Lessard

Stefan Lessard

My name is STEFAN LESSARD. I am a son, a father, a musician in the Dave Matthews Band, and I am a proud Mohawk man. If we are to have an AIDS-free generation for Native people, we must overcome the stigma of HIV. Stigma surrounding HIV testing and the fear of disclosure of HIV status is hurting our people. Stigma keeps us silent, and that silence can kill us. We can change this! We must support our brothers and sisters who are HIV positive, and we must speak loudly about living healthy!

H-I-V: Hearing Indigenous Voices: Uniting the bold voices of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Conquest Stigma! Get tested! Know your status!
- Stefan Lessard, Mohawk

Becky Hobbs

Becky Hobbs

Osiyo, I'm BECKY HOBBS, singer, songwriter, composer, and co-playwright of the musical Nanyehi, the story of Nancy Ward, based on the life of my fifth great-grandmother, who was a Beloved Woman of the Cherokee. I, too, am a warrior for the health of my Native people. Too many of our people have lost their lives to complications from AIDS, too many are HIV positive, and too many don't even know their status. We are powerful people and united; we can defeat HIV. Make some noise! March 20th is the Spring Equinox, and it is NATIONAL NATIVE HIV/AIDS AWARENESS DAY. Start the conversation about HIV and live strong! Defeat the stigma and know your status. For more information, visit WWW.NNHAAD.ORG .
- Becky Hobbs, Cherokee

Trudie Jackson

Trudie Jackson

March 20th marks the 10th annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It's the first day of spring and in most Native communities, it's a time of ceremony and new beginnings. National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to honor those who have passed as a result of AIDS and it's a much needed time to renew our commitment to stop this infection among our people. We encourage all communities to honor this day with an event to support HIV testing and awareness. Fight the stigma. Know your own status and promote a healthy lifestyle. For more information, please visit WWW.NNHAAD.ORG. One way to honor the struggles our ancestors made for our survival and to protect the future of our people is to take the test.
- Trudie Jackson, Navajo

Reference

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data trends fact sheet [2.37 MB].
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