Ending the HIV Epidemic: Culturally Attuned Educational Materials for American Indians/Alaska Natives

Content From: Leah Dodge, MPH, HIV Project Lead, Urban Indian Health Institute, Seattle Indian Health BoardPublished: October 19, 20202 min read


Positively Native
Credit: Urban Indian Health Institute

As one of several Indian Health Service activities supported by the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) in Fiscal Year 2020, the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) is currently leading a project focused on creating  culturally attuned HIV education materials—including print, digital, and video formats—for both American Indian and Alaska Native patients and the healthcare providers who serve them.

UIHIExit Disclaimer, located in Seattle, Washington, works to provide information to and assist urban Indian-serving organizations to better the urban Indian community's health nationwide. Seven out of 10 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently live in urban settings away from federally defined tribal lands. Since 2016, UIHI has led several projects that promote culturally attuned HIV prevention and treatment.

Among the new materials being developed under this project, in March 2020, UIHI released a short film, Positively NativeExit Disclaimer, in which long-time HIV survivors Bill Hall (Tlingit), Shana Cozad (Kiowa), and Hamen Ides (Lummi) discuss their lived experiences with HIV stigma, discrimination, and advocacy. Along with the film, UIHI released an accompanying toolkit that includes a facilitator's guide, discussion questions, and a presentation on the basics of HIV. The organization presented Positively Native to an audience of 38 people at the International Indigenous Pre-Conference on HIV/AIDS in July 2020.

Also as part of the MHAF-supported project, UIHI is working with Cardea Services to develop three 30-minute online learning modules for clinicians who serve Native patients. Module topics include the initial management of HIV in the primary care setting, harm reduction, and adolescent-friendly STD testing and treatment. UIHI has engaged Native physicians and public health practitioners from across the country to help inform the modules' content. Free continuing medical education and continuing nursing education credits will be available to clinicians who complete the modules. The three new learning modules build upon existing HIV care and sexual health assessment modules that UIHI and Cardea Services developed in 2018. The modules can be accessed hereExit Disclaimer.

In the coming months, UIHI will release several additional new educational materials, including:

  • A poster series on HIV testing, stigma, and PrEP;
  • A short animation of a patient and doctor talking about the benefits of PrEP;
  • A toolkit that includes seven clips from Positively Native, social media posts for sharing the clips, and a calendar of HIV-related awareness days to share the clips; and
  • A digital resource library of culturally attuned HIV educational materials.