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SEARHC touts Native HIV/AIDS awareness

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SITKA - The third National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day takes place on Friday, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium will honor those Alaska Natives, American Indians and Native Hawaiians who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. On March 20, an information table about the impact of HIV/AIDS on Alaska Natives will be set up near the Litehouse Cafeteria at the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.

HIV/AIDS infection rates are growing in Native communities at a higher rate than for other ethnic groups in the United States, and Natives with HIV/AIDS tend to be younger than non-Natives. In Alaska, there have been 282 Natives diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, which is 22 percent of the 1,261 total cases from the state's first diagnosis in 1982 to 2008. Almost a third of all new cases of HIV/AIDS are in women, compared to less than 10 percent in the 1980s. Natives also have the shortest times between AIDS diagnosis and death.

"HIV is affecting thousands of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - the beginning of spring - is an opportunity to talk about HIV and the impact it's having on our community," said Robert McSwain, acting director of the Indian Health Service.

For more information about HIV/AIDS prevention and testing, contact Barbara Teepe at 966-8318 or by e-mail at barbara.teepe@searhc.org.

For more information about National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, go to www.nnaapc.org/news/awareness-day.htm, www.aids.gov or www.hhs.gov/aidsawarenessdays/days/native/index.html.



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