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National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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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.”

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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 Exit Disclaimer, the Commitment to Action for 7th–Generation Awareness & Education: HIV/AIDS Prevention Project Exit Disclaimer, and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. Exit Disclaimer

HIV in Native Communities

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 Exit Disclaimer, www.happ.colostate.edu Exit Disclaimer, and www.nnaapc.org Exit Disclaimer. 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 Exit Disclaimer.

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Comments

  1. Karen Collins says:

    A big round of applause should be given to all of the communities and agencies that have stepped forward to help educate the people (both Native and non-Native alike) about the epidemic in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian populations. It is truly inspiring to witness such an effort and grassroots organizing. NNAAPC, CA7AE, and ITCA have done an excellent job spearheading this effort with their planning partners, CDC, AIDS.gov, and IHS. It is a time like this that makes us think that we DO have the ability to make a difference.

  2. Firstly all persons who are HIV+ Poz should listen to their doctor’s advice and always seek professional medical treatment. But they also must have a say in the advice being given by the doctor.
    I will add to that part of my personal story and how I dealt with my diagnosis many years ago and how I keep my heath now.
    When I was diagnosed I was 21 years old I am now 40. It was before combination therapy and many of my friends were not fairing very well with HIV. When I came to Sydney from a country town I asked many questions in the scene on what advice older men would give a new guy to town. One piece of great advice was find a doctor I felt comfortable with and STICK to that same doctor. Which I have done for 20 years now.
    When my doctor told me I was HIV+ AKA Poz I thought all the thought as I am sure many did. I am going to die a horrible death many many years before I had a chance to really live.
    But what I did do, and now I am so glade I did was take myself to a quite place and ask myself Jamie can you live with this virus in your body? Can you live in harmony with something that has been undoubtedly shown to kill? My body’s and my minds answer was an unquestionable YES. So I made HIV my friend in my body and I have lived in harmony with it ever since. I do not see it as a virus that I should feel fear of. I see it as just another part of me. If I look after myself I am looking after the virus and in someway it may look after me. Seems strange I know and has no medical reasoning to it. I may just have a biological make up that is able to co exist with HIV? Who knows? All I know is I somehow deep within myself I did not see HIV as something that would adversely affect me on a physical level. Others I knew lived in fear of being HIV on a daily basis and they passed away.
    So 17 years on I have not needed HIV medication I have not had any sickness physically due to HIV. I have however suffered mental issues due to other person’s reactions to me being HIV. 17 years of me knowing I will be fine living healthy with HIV and 17 years of people saying I am sick and going to die just because my HIV test results show a positive result has in itself created its own burden. How can I tell everyone its ok to live with HIV when the world fears it???? The fear MUST stop. Sero sorting may be the best way forward.
    A comment to me was “so why keep quite about it” well for many years I did and millions still do keep quite about it. That’s why I am no longer keeping quite about it. I want others who have received a recent HIV positive result to hear a story different to many other stories. To give some form of hope. Is it all in ones thinking that may just give each of us that strength to LIVE with HIV? Fear in itself is a killer.
    Now this comment I am sure will be taken the wrong way by thousands but that’s not my problem that’s theirs as this thinking may well have saved my life to this point.
    When I was diagnosed HIV+ I looked to the native people of Australia as they have a particular story or belief that I based a lot of my thinking on. Google the words (pointing of the bone) or go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdaitcha
    I saw my HIV result as a modern day bone that had been pointed at me a “spear of thought”. But in my unfounded and somewhat crazed logic I decided to turn my “spear of thought” around and see what out come I got. What did I have to loose? Just life or death really. So far it’s been all life and healthy at that. My “spear of thought” is I will live well with HIV not die of it. So no matter what anyone wishes to tell me, be it one other person or the whole world – I believe to the very core of my existence that I will not be harmed by HIV. I believe that the subconscious thought is your road map to your reality so I just ensured all my thoughts conscious and subconscious were positive.
    My basic day to day life is as many millions of people in the so called modern world. (I am very fortunate to live in Australia) I eat well. In that I mean fresh veggies and lean meat. I have regular sleeping patterns. Go to bed earliyish and wake up around the same time each day.
    I limit all intakes into my body. I do drink alcohol but not in excess, but this is tested sometimes if I have a night out with mates. One to six glasses of any type of alcohol per week or no alcohol at all if I feel sluggish or have no desire for it. I smoke cigarettes about a pack a day. I do not suggest this is either good or bad. I listen intently to what my body is telling me. If I crave chocolate I do not fight that crave I eat chocolate until I am content, even if its two bars of chocolate. Then I do not punish myself afterwards and feel ashamed of eating two bars in one sitting. Instead I thank my body for telling me what it needed. I will sometimes stand in the kitchen for ten minutes trying to work out what my body is telling me to eat. It can sometimes be the craziest things. A clove of garlic. A bowl of cereal at 9pm. Catchup on toast or a boiled egg with salt.
    What I am trying to say is if your able to look after yourself and don’t get too involved in the hysteria of HIV you should be able to continue to live well. Sure listen to advise from professionals but listen to YOURSELF as well. We all know the human body is an amazing thing. What I do want to say is that the human brain is really only second in line behind Mother Nature in its power. Its just we have to choose what way we want to use its power. My choice was to use my brain to save my life.
    Jamie

  3. Tony says:

    It is heartbreaking to see those stats, especially when you bear in mind what the native people have been through in history. HIV is still a taboo subject in so many communities, that needs to change fast. I really support and applaud the work that has gone on to educate about HIV in these communities. I think a lot more has to be done though to raise awareness.

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