This week, global nonprofit organization AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) joins the nation in commemorating the thousands of Native Americans and Alaska Natives who have lived with and battled HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began in the late 1980s with National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 20. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented an estimated 212 new HIV cases in this community in 2011, the government agency estimates 3,787 Native people have been diagnosed with HIV in the past 30 years.
According to the Office of Minority Health – part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Native individuals face a much higher risk for HIV/AIDS infection than the Caucasian population in the United States: the Office reports that the Native population as a whole has a 30% higher rate of infection, and Native American/Alaskan Native men have a 50% higher AIDS rate than white men.
AHF has partnered with health organizations serving Native populations, including Indian Health Service, a specified branch of the nation’s Health and Human Services Department that serves Native American and Alaska Native populations.
AHF partnered with IHS during a nationwide testing campaign in 2010 that included a stop at the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Reservation just southwest of historical Wounded Knee, South Dakota.