September 17, 2012
A report from the Indian Health Service, the Navajo Nation Health Education Program, and the Navajo AIDS Network indicate that in the past 25 years HIV cases have increased in the Navajo Nation. In the mid-1990s, the number of new cases averaged 10 per year, compared to about 40 per year in the last three years. There were 35 new cases in 2010 and 40 in 2011. HIV/AIDS rates among the Navajo population increased first in homosexual males, then in heterosexual males and females, similar to the pattern of the United States, except ten years later. Other Native peoples also are reporting high rates of HIV/AIDS. The Indian Health Service website shows HIV and AIDS rates for Native Americans and Alaska Natives rank third in the United States, after those of African Americans and Hispanics. According to the Office of Minority Health, Native Americans/Alaska Natives have a 30 percent higher rate of infection than Caucasians, and men have a 50 percent higher rate. Hospitals on the Navajo Nation, including the Gallup Indian Medical Center, are focusing on HIV screening. The Navajo Nation Council passed the Navajo Nation HIV/AIDS Act in 2011 in support of research, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS on the reservation. Part of the difficulty of stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS among Native Americans includes the lack of education and discussion about sex, as well as the alcoholism and illegal drug use. Information on HIV/AIDS in the Navajo Nation is available from the Navajo Nation Health Education Program, Window Rock, Arizona, at (928) 871-6258.
Farmington Daily Times, New Mexico
09.17.12; Jenny Kane
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