For Immediate Release
March 15, 2010

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 20

The fourth annual National Native (American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 20.

“HIV/AIDS deeply impacts Native communities,” said Roderick Bremby, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians make up about 1.2 percent of the national population, though this group had the third largest rate of AIDS diagnosis, preceded by African Americans and Hispanics.

According to the Indian Health Service, American Indians and Alaska Natives populations face other public health disparities, including substance abuse and sexually transmitted disease and infections.  These behaviors put the population at higher risk for HIV transmission. 

“Not all infected persons may be aware of their status, creating great obstacles for HIV prevention,” said Sandra Springer,  interim director of the HIV/AIDS program at KDHE. “Reaching Native populations with messages about HIV prevention and education is vital to community health and vitality.” 

The following event has been organized to promote education and outreach about HIV and AIDS and to provide testing at the site.

Douglas County AIDS Project: There will be a testing and informational event on March 20 to commemorate the day at the Lawrence Public Library from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.