March 20th is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, where we pay particular focus to raising awareness, overcoming stigmas and encouraging testing for HIV and Aids in Native communities in the United States. This presents opportunities for Native Americans, Alaskans and Hawaiians to learn more about HIV/AIDS and to promote testing and counselling where necessary.
The day appropriately coincides with the spring equinox, celebrated in many Native communities as a symbol of new beginnings. It was chosen specifically for this reason as it is an opportunity for positive change through awareness and prevention.
This institution was started in 2007 by HIV.gov to promote awareness and provide resources to Native communities after several studies identified them to be a high risk group in need of assistance. Risks of HIV in these communities can be heightened by a general lack of health care provisions and mental health assistance, as well as societal stigmas surrounding homosexuality, high rates of alcohol and drug use and general misinformation. This has led to estimates of up to a quarter of cases of Native people who are infected with HIV or AIDS being unaware that they have it.
There are various ways to participate in observing NNHAAD, including visiting HIV.gov or other educational resources to learn more on the subject, getting a routine test for HIV, sharing information about HIV and AIDS prevention, or raising money by supporting or organising an event to spread awareness.