03.19.15

Congresswoman Lee Marks National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Washington, D.C. – Since 2007, National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on the first day of Spring.

The day began as a way to increase local and global awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indian and Alaska Native people.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to affect all of our communities, including American Indians and Alaska Natives. While we are seeing lower rates of new infections within these communities, we must continue to ensure that the culturally and linguistically-competent education, counseling, testing and care are available to all,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

“HIV/AIDS is a rising threat to our native populations; Tribal and Indian Health priority must be increased access to HIV screening and consistent education efforts for everyone,” said Gayle Dine'Chacon, MD, Medical Director at the Pueblo of Sandia Health Center and Former Surgeon General of the Navajo Nation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18.9 percent of the American Indians and Alaska Natives living with HIV are undiagnosed. This undiagnosed rate is significantly greater than the overall average of 14 percent.

“This National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I encourage everyone to get educated and tested. It’s on us to take our health in our own hands,” 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 Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.