National Institutes of Health (NIH) Release: Conference To Address Significant Impact Of HIV/AIDS On Native Americans

WASHINGTON, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- HIV and AIDS is spreading at an alarming rate within Native communities, threatening the loss of lives, language, and culture. Now, for the first time, a national conference will address critical issues regarding HIV and AIDS among the Indigenous peoples of North America.

The Embracing Our Traditions, Values, and Teachings: Native Peoples of North America HIV/AIDS Conference, organized by and for Native Americans, will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, on May 2-6. The conference is expected to attract researchers, health care and service providers, and people living with HIV/AIDS from the American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nations, and U.S. Territorial Pacific Islander communities.

Rick Haverkate, the co-chair of the conference, says, "Over the past 25 years our people have been attacked by an enemy more vicious and cruel than almost anything we've encountered over the last 500 years of colonization: HIV." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports AIDS case rates in the American Indian/Alaska Native population in 2004 as 7.9 per 100,000. In comparison, the much larger white population has a smaller rate at 6.0 per 100,000. The significant difference is, in the United States, the Native population consists of only 3.5 million versus 216.9 million whites. In addition, the Asian/Pacific Islander group has a rate of 3.7 per 100,000.

According to Dr. Anthony Dekker, of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center and member of the conference's National Planning Committee, Indigenous peoples "have the highest rates of sexually transmissible diseases and a higher burden of substance abuse" than many other geographic and ethnic communities causing higher risk of HIV infection. He says, "The opportunity to prevent or diminish the rapid spread of HIV seen in other at-risk communities is still with us."

Conference sessions will focus on heightening awareness of HIV/AIDS- related issues, disseminating the latest research findings, and fostering collaboration and communication throughout the Native community. Topics to be presented and discussed include research; mental health; prevention; special populations and stigma; spiritual issues and leadership; and treatment, care, and support.

Complete conference program information can be found at http://www.embracingourtraditions.org.

The National Planning Committee for the conference, a group of Native representatives from the target populations, is collaborating with the Office of AIDS Research of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

CONTACT: Gabi Chojkier Ruder Finn 202-974-5012 chojkierg@ruderfinn.com

The National Planning Committee and the Office of AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health

CONTACT: Gabi Chojkier, +1-202-974-5012, or chojkierg@ruderfinn.com, forThe National Planning Committee and the Office of AIDS Research, NationalInstitutes of Health

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