03.20.16

We Must “Hear Indigenous Voices” in the Fight to End HIV/AIDS – Marking National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Oakland, CA – Since 2007, National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day has been observed on the first day of Spring. In 2016, this day will be marked on March 20th. The theme of this year’s awareness day is “Hear Indigenous Voices: Uniting the Bold Voices of American Indians, Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders”.

This day began as an opportunity to increase local and global awareness about the impacts of HIV/AIDS on American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In particular, these communities have the highest rates of HIV infections from injection drug use.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to affect communities around the U.S. and the world, including American Indians and Alaska Natives.  As we work to end this epidemic and save lives, we must ensure culturally and linguistically-competent education, counseling, testing and care is available to these communities,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

According to estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,700 American Indians and Alaska Natives are living with HIV and nearly 20 percent are undiagnosed. This undiagnosed rate is significantly greater than the national average undiagnosed rate of 14 percent.

“As we mark National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I strongly encourage everyone to take your health in your hand, get educated and tested. Together, we can end this terrible epidemic and see an AIDS-free generation,” added Congresswoman Lee.

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Democrat Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity.