This week will mark the third National Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). This year’s theme is “A Celebration of Life.”
HIV affects thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). AI/AN have the third highest rate of AIDS diagnoses in the United States, despite having the smallest population. AI/AN who are living with AIDS are likely to be younger than their non–AI/AN counterparts and have the shortest time between AIDS diagnosis and death.
We spoke to Captain Scott Giberson, HIV Principal Consultant with the Indian Health Service, and members of the National Native Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) Network (the group that organizes and implements NNHAAD) to learn more about the role of new media in responding to HIV in AI/AN communities.
In our previous series on responding to HIV in Native communities, we discussed some of the challenges AI/AN populations face in accessing new media, and some of the work IHS and the CBA Network are doing. The CBA Network provides technical assistance to AI/AN organizations on strengthening organizational infrastructure and interventions for HIV prevention. They also work to increase community access to, and utilization of, HIV prevention services through community mobilization and planning. The CBA Network consists of the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center , the Commitment to Action for 7th–Generation Awareness & Education: HIV/AIDS Prevention Project , and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
The CBA Network told us that “in a time when social networking sites are a part of many Native people’s lives, those of us in Indian country are able to use new tools to communicate in ways our ancestors couldn’t have imagined.” Scott reminded us “[AI/AN] are underserved populations and issues such as health disparities, multiple health systems, and access to care add complexity to an already challenging battle against HIV.”
Scott encouraged us to “join local, regional, or national efforts to celebrate this Day with all Native Americans who are improving their health through knowledge of their HIV status, open discussion, and other HIV prevention efforts.”
If you or your organization uses new media, take action by posting the NNHAAD ribbon on your blog, social networking site, or website. For more information, visit the CBA Network members’ sites: www.itcaonline.com , www.happ.colostate.edu , and www.nnaapc.org . And, in recognition of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, watch and share stories by AI/AN people living with HIV and others from The Positive Project .