Responding to HIV in the Native Community: Part I

Content From: HIV.govPublished: January 13, 20092 min read


Last week, we gave a presentation on new media and American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) to the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services (OCPS) at the Indian Health Service. As Captain Scott Giberson, IHS HIV Principal Consultant, and Lt. Commander Dwayne Jarman, IHS Prevention Specialist, told us, “IHS is the Federal agency that fulfills the U.S. government’s responsibility for health among AI/AN communities. New media can enhance our ability to fulfill that role.” The presentation led us to some interesting findings and resources that we’d like to share with you in this week’s post.

What are the facts about American Indians and Alaska Natives and HIV/AIDS?

(Facts from the CDC’s Fact Sheet on HIV/AIDS among American Indians and Alaska Natives)
While AI/AN with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis represent less than 1% of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases reported to the CDC, when population size is taken into account, AI/AN ranked third in rates of HIV/AIDS diagnosis, after African Americans and Hispanics. The rate of AIDS diagnosis for this group has been higher than that for whites since 1995.

What do we know about American Indians and Alaska Natives and new media use?

It is challenging to find numbers that represent how many AI/AN are online or using new media. As one report assessing Internet access across the Indian Health Service (PDF 6.59 MB) states, “there are few data available on the number of AI/AN who have Internet access.” To learn more, we spoke with several leaders in the field from The Native Capacity Building Assistance Providers’ Network.

  • An IHS report, reminded us that “often even those who are listed as having Internet access are utilizing dial-up or very, very slow wireless, which greatly limits their access.”
  • The National Center for Educational Statistics told us, “Currently, the younger generation has the capabilities to use such technology. For the older/Elder generation, it can be a new process that may be difficult to learn.”

Next week we’ll discuss how to reach AI/AN using new and traditional media, with additional insight from the National Native American AIDS Prevention CenterExit Disclaimer.

We’ll also be including examples from the field—so please leave a comment to let us know what you’re doing with the AI/AN community!