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HIV & AIDS Impacting Indian Country

HIV & AIDS Impacting Indian Country

By Jorge Martin Melchor for Indian Country Today Media Network

HIV and AIDS cases are increasing among Native American populations. Officials say many Native groups lack the information about the diseases and how to prevent them from spreading, and that has resulted in a growing problem. Authorities in Arizona are trying to reverse that trend by encouraging people on the Navajo Nation Reservation and throughout Indian country to get tested, and educating Native populations about the spread of HIV. But they face difficult challenges, including traditional taboos in speaking of sex or death. They have tried to overcome that by incorporating traditional medicine in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Dr. Paul Bloomquist, of Indian Health Services, urged Native Americans to get tested, even if they don’t think they are infected. “One in five people don’t know they have HIV infection, and the only way that they can prevent transmission to others and get well or prevent themselves from getting sick is to get tested and know their status,” he said.

Specific to the Navajo Nation, use:

One medical center in the Four Corners region is working to reduce HIV transmissions among Navajos and offers culturally competent treatment and care. At the Indian Medical Center in Gallup, New Mexico, modern medicine meets traditional Navajo healing. Medicine men visit hospital rooms to offer ancient prayers, blessings and healing herbs for drinking. Dual treatment is encouraged by the Indian Health Service so patients feel more optimistic about their treatment and continue receiving care.

Click through to the original article to view a short video discussing HIV/AIDS in the American Indian community.

Join the Campaign to End AIDS today for support and resources to organize around these issues in your community!

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 11:04 am