Navajo Nation Addresses HIV/AIDS Awareness Among Tribe Members
The AP/Santa Fe New Mexican on Saturday examined efforts to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among members of the Navajo Nation tribe.
The Navajo Area Indian Health Service has identified 240 HIV/AIDS cases among group members from 1985 to 2006. There were 7.6 HIV/AIDS cases per 100,000 Navajo Nation American Indians in 2005 and 7.8 cases per 100,000 Navajo Nation American Indians in 2006, the AP/New Mexican reports. According to CDC data, there were 10.6 HIV/AIDS cases per 100,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2005, compared with 72.8 cases for blacks, 28.5 for Hispanics, 9 for whites and 7.6 for Asians and Pacific Islanders.
According to the AP/New Mexican, the Navajo Nation faces many challenges in promoting awareness of sexually transmitted infections, including how "to relay to traditional healers that HIV and AIDS are not non-Native diseases," address access to care and ensure patient confidentiality.
In addition, many HIV-positive tribal members forgo care because of stigma and misconceptions related to the disease. However, in recent years, efforts have been made to address health issues among the Navajo tribe. Jocelyn Billy, Miss Navajo Nation, has been recognized for speaking publicly about sex, relationships and HIV/AIDS, and tribal officials have run public service announcements encouraging safer sex and urging members to be tested for HIV.
Rita Gilmore, a traditional healer, said, "It's not about who has the best remedies to cure this because right now, both sides don't have a cure. We must come together and [find] ways to prolong the lives of these patients" (Fonseca, AP/Santa Fe New Mexican, 6/9).