March 20 is National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Content From: Lisa Neel National HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator, Indian Health Service, HHS.Published: March 18, 20162 min read

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Lisa Neel - hedshot - March 2016

Lisa Neel, Indian Health ServiceNational Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a nationwide effort designed to promote HIV testing and awareness in Native communities. March 20, 2016 marks the 10th annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year's theme is "Hear Indigenous Voices: Uniting Bold Voices of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders."

HIV/AIDS testing is free at all IHS facilities. It is our goal to support the communities we serve in providing the HIV prevention and care activities that are most effective for them.

Examples of toolkits developed by IHS and its partners to help people use their voices to improve their community's health include:

  • Native VOICESExit Disclaimer (Video Opportunities for Innovative Condom Education and Safer Sex), an intervention designed for American Indian and Alaska Native youth. The culturally tailored video covers important sexual health topics, including talking to your partner about sex, STD testing, defining and enforcing personal values and healthy relationships. A free toolkit can be ordered at native@npaihb.org.

There are a number of new ways to reduce HIV transmission and provide a healthy lifespan to those already living with HIV. One of these is pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), which is the daily use of HIV medication to reduce the risk of infection in people at very high risk for HIV. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. Learn more about PrEP.Ms. Neel, MPH, a member of the Cherokee Nation, manages the IHS National HIV/AIDS Program. This public health program addresses infectious disease needs in partnership with Native communities throughout the United States.