Compared with other races or ethnicities, Native Americans have poorer survival rates after an HIV diagnosis
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit clinic providing health and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, recognizes the impact HIV/AIDS has on Native Americans through the observance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 20.
Although American Indians and Alaska Natives HIV infection is proportional to the US population size, certain measures within the overall statistics of new HIV infections and diagnoses are disproportionate compared to other races or ethnicities. Of the 39,513 people with a HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2015, over 200 were American Indians and Alaska Natives. Of those, 73 percent were men and 26 percent were women.
American Indians and Alaska Natives are statistically more likely to face challenges associated with risk for HIV infection, which includes high rates of sexually transmitted disease; substance abuse leading to engaging in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex; and issues related to poverty, such as lower education levels and limited access to health care.
“The topic of HIV/AIDS remains a serious health threat to the Native American community,” Robyn Sunday-Allen said, CEO of OKCIC. “It is crucial that prevention programs be tailored to the specific needs of this population.”
In order to overcome these barriers, OKCIC encourages the Native community to get educated, get tested, and get involved in HIV prevention, care and treatment. It is recommended that all adults and young adults get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care. Those who are at a higher risk should get tested every year.
There are ways to prevent HIV infection, including:
- Abstinence (not having sex)
- Limiting your number of sexual partners
- Never injecting drugs and sharing needles
- Always use condoms the right way every time you have sex
- You may be able to take medication (Truvada) for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
The only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested. Knowing your HIV status helps you make choices that prevent you from getting HIV or from transmitting HIV. To get an HIV test:
- Ask your medical provider
- Visit gettested.cdc.gov
- Text KNOWIT (566948) with your zip code in the message
- Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
- Visit hiv.gov
About Oklahoma City Indian Clinic
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was established in 1974 to provide excellent health care and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma. The clinic staff cares for more than 18,000 patients from over 200 federally recognized tribes every year. American Indians can receive a range of services, including medical, dental, pediatrics, prenatal, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health services. For more information, please call (405) 948-4900 or visit www.okcic.com.