March 20, 2019 marks the eleventh annual National Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This day is an opportunity to increase awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity for Native people and others to create a greater awareness of the risks of HIV/AIDS to their communities; to remember those who have passed; to acknowledge those who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS; to call for increased resources for testing; and to seek support for increasing treatment and care options.
Of the 39,513 HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2015, 1 percent (209) were among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIs/ANs). Of those, 73 percent were men, and 26 percent were women. Of the 152 HIV diagnoses among AI/AN men in 2015, most (79 percent, 120) were among gay and bisexual men. From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses increased 19 percent among AI/AN overall and 63 percent among AI/AN gay and bisexual men.
With more than 560 federally recognized AI/AN tribes and 170 languages, cultural diversity can pose a challenge in HIV prevention. Also, poverty, stigma associated with gay relationships and HIV, barriers to mental health care, and high rates of alcohol and drug abuse and STDs all increase the risk of HIV in Native communities and create obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment.