Indian Country Today (12.19.12)
Native American populations are seeing an increase in HIV and AIDS, as many Native groups lack disease prevention information. To reverse that trend, Arizona authorities are urging Navajo residents to get tested and become educated about the spread of HIV. Dr. Paul Bloomquist of the Indian Health Services declares that, “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.”
Obstacles, such as traditional taboos in speaking of death or sex, are prevalent. To overcome those challenges, Indian officials are incorporating traditional medicine in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. In the Four Corners region, one medical center is reducing Navaho HIV transmissions and offering culturally competent care and treatment. Medicine men at the Indian Medical Center in Gallup, New Mexico, visit hospital rooms offering ancient prayers, healing herbs for drinking, and blessings. The Indian Health Service encourages dual treatment—modern medicine and traditional Navajo healing—so that patients are more receptive of treatment and continue to receive care.
The following organizations offer information on HIV/AIDS: National Native American AIDS Prevention Center: 1-720-382-2244; AIDS Treatment Data Network: 1-800-734-7104; HIV Health InfoLine: 1-866-HIV-INFO; National AIDS Hotline: 1-800-CDC-INFO; National Association of People with AIDS Hotline: 1-240-247-0880; and the National Prevention Information Network: 1-800-458-5231