March 14, 2011
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to be observed in Minnesota
Local events planned for March 17
The official fifth annual observance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) is Sunday, March 20 with some local events in Minnesota planned for March 17.
The day will raise awareness about the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and the need to work together to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The day provides an opportunity to reflect on those who have died or are affected by this disease as HIV has continued to grow among Native communities over the past decade.
American Indians have the fourth highest rate of new HIV infections (11.9 per 100,000 persons) in the U.S. according to recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). African Americans, Latinos and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders have higher rates of infection. Through 2008, 3,629 American Indians have been diagnosed with AIDS and an estimated 2,306 are living with HIV/AIDS. In 1999, there were 1,224 American Indians living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
“In Minnesota, we had 207 cases of HIV infection reported among American Indians since the beginning of the epidemic. Unfortunately, 85 of the 207 have died,” said Peter Carr, manager of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). “Currently, there are 114 American Indians living with HIV in Minnesota. Sixty-three of these cases are males and 51 cases are females.”
American Indians have historically experienced higher rates of multiple diseases, including HIV/AIDS, than any other racial/ethnic group. Factors contributing to higher disease occurrence and lower life expectancy among American Indians include disproportionate rates of poverty, discrimination in the delivery of health services, limited access to quality education and health care and cultural differences.
“We hope to use this day as a ‘Call to Action’ to engage our Native communities in lowering infection rates through prevention, early detection, and access to care and treatment,” said Carr.
Health officials noted that the best ways to prevent HIV includes delaying the start of sexual activity, limiting the number of sexual partners, knowing your HIV status and that of your partners through testing, practicing safer sex at all times, and not sharing needles for drug use, piercing or tattooing.
“One of the best ways to start learning about how to prevent HIV infection is to get connected with some of the programs and events our department funds,” said Carr.
The STD and HIV Section and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health at MDH currently fund 39 community-based programs aimed at preventing the spread of HIV in adults and young people of all races who are at risk of acquiring the infection. One of these programs includes the Indigenous Peoples Task Force based in Minneapolis that has been one of the key leaders in reaching American Indian populations in Minnesota with HIV prevention efforts over the past 20 years.
For this year’s NNHAAD observance, the Indigenous Peoples Task Force will host two free educational events featuring Lisa Tiger, nationally renowned HIV educator, at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. The event at 5 p.m. will focus on HIV prevention for youth. Free HIV testing will be available at both events. For event details, contact the Indigenous Peoples Task Force at 612-870-1723.
For more information on National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2011, visit Colorado State University’s Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity at http://www.happ.colostate.edu/, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona at http://www.itcaonline.com/, National Native American AIDS Prevention Center at http://www.nnaapc.org/ or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Information about HIV is also available from the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine, (612) 373-2437, 1-800-248-2437. MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites, as well as community resources and prevention programs that serve American Indians.
The MDH HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report-2009, which includes data specific for American Indians, can be found on the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/hivstatistics.html. The MDH website also provides information, fact sheets and a calendar of local activities for the observance at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/worldaidsday/nnhaad/index.html.
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In a proclamation marking this year’s observance, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called for all Minnesotans to strongly support National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and to get involved with initiatives to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the American Indian communities. To see a copy of the proclamation, visit the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/worldaidsday/nnhaad/index.html.
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Community Events– Free and Open to the Public
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Event
12 p.m., March 17 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404. Hosted by the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, this event will feature Lisa Tiger, nationally renowned HIV educator. Free HIV testing will be available.
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Event for Youth
5 p.m., March 17 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404. Hosted by the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, this event will feature Lisa Tiger, nationally renowned HIV educator; will address youth with her HIV prevention message. Free HIV testing will be available.