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2005-07-08-HIV/AIDS in American Indian Community
The Arizona Republic this week published a series on HIV/AIDS in American Indian communities. Summaries of the articles appear below:
"AIDS takes a growing toll on Native Americans": HIV/AIDS threatens to destroy entire American Indian communities whose "isolated, insular nature" exacerbates the spread of the virus, as people often live far from clinics or lack health care, according to Irene Vernon, who wrote a book on American Indians and HIV/AIDS, titled "Killing Us Quietly." As a result, people often wait until they are very sick to get help, and many are diagnosed late (Nichols , Arizona Republic, 7/3).
"In Arizona, 3 programs point to hope": Three programs in Arizona are addressing HIV/AIDS among American Indians in the state, where 289 HIV-positive American Indians lived at the end of 2003. The Navajo AIDS Network, which has a budget of $250,000, provides case management to about 60 clients; the Navajo Nation's HIV Prevention Program spends $200,000 annually and focuses on prevention; and the HIV Center for Excellence in Phoenix -- part of the HHS Indian Health Service -- uses its $1.75 million budget to provide outpatient care, drugs and case management to 117 clients (Nichols , Arizona Republic, 7/3).
"Native Americans lose out on AIDS funds": American Indians receive little of the federal government's $16 billion in HIV/AIDS funding because the money is allocated based on the number of reported cases. Only 3,026 AIDS cases were reported among American Indians nationwide through 2003. However, advocates for the American Indian community say the population should receive more money because prevention is crucial and many cases might not be counted because of racial misclassification, lack of testing in rural areas, privacy issues and denial (Nichols , Arizona Republic, 7/4).
"Making a choice to live": Few HIV-positive American Indians are willing to share their stories -- which are considered vital for education and prevention -- largely because of the stigma surrounding the disease (Nichols , Arizona Republic, 7/4).
"'Keep on keeping on'": The article profiles Lisa Tiger, an American Indian woman who contracted HIV through heterosexual sex. Tiger is "both an indicator of the problem in Indian country and a sign of hope," as the disease moves from high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men and injection drug users, to heterosexuals (Nichols , Arizona Republic, 7/4).