NIWRC Recognizes March 20th as National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

NIWRC Recognizes March 20th as National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center recognizes March 20th, 2019 as National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). This awareness day is observed annually on the Spring Equinox, NNHAAD is a national community mobilization effort designed to encourage American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians across the United States and territorial areas to get educated, get tested, and get involved in HIV prevention, care, and treatment. This year’s theme is Unity in CommUNITY: Hear Indigenous Voices (HIV).

Of the 39,782 HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2016, 1% (243) were among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. Of those, 81% (198) were men, and 19% (45) were women. Of the 198 HIV diagnoses among AI/AN men in 2016, most (77%, 152) were among gay and bisexual men. Of the 45 women diagnosed with HIV, 69% were attributable to heterosexual contact. From 2011 to 2015, the number of new HIV diagnoses increased 38% (from 143 to 197) among AI/AN overall and 54% (from 74 to 114) among AI/AN gay and bisexual men.

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body. This damage to the immune system makes it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases. Opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS. Learn more about the stages of HIV ( and how you can test for HIV.

Why Should I Get Tested?

CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care while those at increased risk should get an HIV test at least every year. HIV testing is vital and sexually active gay and bisexual men might benefit from HIV testing every 3 to 6 months.

How Should I Get Tested?

Visit the CDC HIV/AIDS website to learn where to get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), go to GetTested, or text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948). Home testing kits are available online or at a pharmacy. You may also find a testing location by visiting your local IHS Tribal or Urban facility, or through Indian Health Service.