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Indian Health Service at the AIDS 2012 Conference

Indian Helath ServiceAs the Indian Health Service (IHS) prepares to participate in the AIDS 2012 Exit Disclaimer conference later this week, I am reminded of both the mission of the Indian Health Service and the importance of collaboration with our partners within the HIV community.

The IHS is fully committed to helping our nation move toward an AIDS- free generation because our mission is to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) to the highest level. Our agency works year-round to ensure that comprehensive, culturally acceptable personal and public health services are available and accessible to AI/AN people. Our HIV/AIDS Program supports quality health care provision in rural and urban settings.  We partner with communities, grantees, and health care providers throughout Indian Country to educate patients about HIV, train providers on strategies to increase HIV testing rates and retention in care, and enable those AI/AN living with and affected by HIV to have access to the highest quality care.

Before and during the AIDS 2012 conference, in recognition of this commitment, the IHS will participate in discussions about our collaborations, successes, and challenges related to “turning the tide together.”

The IHS will be participating in the International Indigenous Pre-Conference on HIV & AIDS “TO SEE AND BE SEEN Exit Disclaimer” to be held on July 20 and 21, 2012, in Washington, D.C.  We look forward to the opportunity to exchange ideas with indigenous leaders from around the world about culturally appropriate responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic at this important time.

On July 25, from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m., IHS will be hosting a panel entitled “Turning the Tide with Communities” at the Indigenous Networking Zone Global Village, Indigenous Circle: Decolonizing HIV and AIDS.  During this event, IHS will be announcing the availability of some new tools for communities to address HIV and AIDS, including a collection of resources for tribal decision-makers. The Global Village  is a vital part of the AIDS 2012 conference. Truly it is “a diverse and vibrant space where community gathers from all over the world to meet, share and learn from each other.” In the Global Village and across the conference venue, we will meet with people from around the world, including staff, advocates, and stakeholders from the U.S. HIV community who currently partner with the Indian Health Service.

The austere reality of our times makes it difficult for many health care providers, grantees, and community members to attend conferences such as AIDS 2012. Many of our partners will participate in the conference virtually via the daily webcasts Exit Disclaimer.  I’m proud to know that several of our IHS grantees applied to the AIDS 2012 conference organizers for permission to offer conference hubs.  These partners collaborate with the Indian Health Service HIV/AIDS Program to offer technical assistance related to HIV awareness.  Our partners have recognized that provision of a hub would be a tremendous way to extend the conference conversation to more providers and organizations that reach the AI/AN communities.

I encourage you to review the list of approved hubs Exit Disclaimer for sessions that may be planned for locations near you. The list is regularly updated and already includes one hub that is being convened by the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center Exit Disclaimer , our technical assistance partner located in Denver, Colorado.

Next week, as the scientific resources for turning the tide are examined at AIDS 2012, we will be working to identify even more strategies to help the movement toward an AIDS-free generation. Effective incorporation of promising strategies for prevention, care, and treatment will rely on the continuation, expansion, and initiation of many collaborations, including those between the Indian Health Service and the communities we serve.

Editor’s Note: For information on the US Government’s activities at the conference, please visit USG@AIDS2012.