National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness day is observed each year on March 20th, the first day of Spring. The day is held to honor and bring awareness to Indigenous people affected by and living with HIV/AIDS. The event was started in 2007 and continues to promote HIV testing and continued education about HIV/AIDS in Native communities. NNHAAD was established by three agencies that were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide resources to develop and strengthen the HIV programs within the tribes they were serving. Since establishment, nine additional health programs have joined to observe and promote awareness for NNHAAD. Of those programs, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board and Native Community Health Network are a part of a coalition called the Southwest Indigenous Initiative (SWII) to promote NNHAAD in the southwest region of the United States, specifically New Mexico. The coalition stems from the New Mexico Community Planning and Action Group.
While most communities have seen a decrease in HIV transmission rates, Native Americans are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with HIV. From CDC data collected between 2015-2019 there was a 22% increase in HIV diagnosis in Native Americans. Lack of widespread STI risk reduction education, less or no support for Native American HIV prevention education, and lack of access to health centers for testing and treatment are three large factors that contribute to the increased risk of HIV transmission.
In previous years, SWII has held in person events for NNHAAD 2017, 2018, and 2021, and 2022. Native American Community Academy held the event in 2017 with a health carnival, fun walk, live music, community lunch, and a drag show. In 2021 SWII held an in-person “drive-thru” style pick-up of testing supplies and information in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Teen M’Power building. In 2022 folks were provided with free food and testing at the Red Nation Movement’s headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People were able to get tested for HIV or Hepatitis C, and gain access to information and tools for harm reduction.
Unfortunately, due to weather conditions in the Santa Fe area the 2023 NNHAAD was canceled. The theme of this year’s event was “Weaving our horizon: Strength. Community. Equity.” Follow the Native Community Health Network on Instagram to stay in the loop on future events!
Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Native Community Health Network
New Mexico Community Action Planning Group