Events Scheduled Nationwide To Recognize National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Organizers nationwide have scheduled events to recognize National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Wednesday, the Billing Gazette reports (Billings Gazette, 3/21). According to Charles Grim, assistant surgeon general and director of the Indian Health Service, American Indians and Alaska Natives represent about 1% of the U.S. population and rank third in rates of AIDS diagnoses among all racial groups in the country (Grim statement, 3/13). "Stigma, silence and behavior are fueling this epidemic," Grim said, adding, "Although these are sensitive issues, we must begin to talk openly and honestly about HIV/AIDS in our communities." Health officials and advocates recently have begun to address the disease among the group, according to the Gazette. However, Elton Naswood -- program coordinator for the Red Circle Project, a cultural network in Los Angeles for American Indian men who have sex with men -- said that American Indians still are routinely excluded from HIV/AIDS research. According to Naswood and Monica Ruiz, acting policy director of the Foundation for AIDS Research, the increasing number of recorded HIV/AIDS cases among American Indians likely is the result of improvements in HIV/AIDS reporting methods (Billings Gazette, 3/21). Additional resources are available from the HIV/AIDS Prevention Project, and the National Minority AIDS Council has included information about the awareness day on its Web site (NMAC release, 3/20). In addition, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors soon will release an update to its 2004 report on American Indians and HIV/AIDS (NASTAD release, 3/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.