American Indian Youth Group To Perform in Minneapolis To Mark Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
An American Indian youth theater group on Friday will perform in Minneapolis to mark National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is scheduled for March 20, the AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The Ogitchi-dag Players from the Indigenous Peoples Task Force will perform at the city's American Indian Center. According to Minnesota health officials, 193 HIV cases and 81 AIDS-related deaths have been recorded among American Indians in the state since the beginning of the epidemic, and about 100 HIV-positive American Indians live in Minnesota. Mitchell Davis, director of the state minority health office, called for frequent HIV tests and safer-sex practices among the population. He also warned against sharing needles for injection drug use and body art (AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 3/15).
Anthony Fauci, head of NIH'S National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, ahead of the awareness day said, "Lack of access to basic health care services, stigma associated with homosexuality and HIV/AIDS, barriers to effective mental health care, and high rates of substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections and poverty all increase the risk of HIV/AIDS in native communities and create obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment." He added, "Consequently, as a proportion of their population, more American Indians and Alaska Natives became infected with HIV than whites in 2006. American Indians and Alaska Natives acquired new HIV infections at a rate of 14.6 cases per 100,000 people, while whites became newly infected at a rate of 11.5 cases per 100,000. Moreover, American Indian and Alaska Native women became infected with HIV at more than three times the rate of white women in 2006" (NIAID release, 3/13).