HIV cases increasing on the Navajo Reservation

The number of diagnosed cases of the human immunodeficiency virus on the Navajo Nation has jumped in recent years.

According to reports from the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, the number of new cases of HIV diagnosed per year in IHS hospitals and health clinics has more than doubled in the last decade.

“In 2000, approximately 15 cases of HIV were diagnosed per year at Navajo facilities. In 2009, however, 40 new cases were diagnosed, and 35 were diagnosed in 2010.”

Sunday was the fifth observance of National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The day is set aside to acknowledge the continued threat of the virus to American Indian communities.

The IHS hopes to provide more education to native communities to decrease the risk. “HIV is a considerable problem in Indian Country,” said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, director of the Indian Health Service. “American Indians also face more risk factors than some other groups, such as higher rates of exually transmitted diseases and substance use. As an American Indian physician and a member of a tribal community, I want to do everything in my power to reduce the spread of HIV.”

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