Last modified: Monday, August 12, 2002
HIV/AIDS prevention for three Native American groups topic of IU conference
HIV/AIDS prevention guidelines for America's native peoples - American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians - will be the subject of an upcoming conference at Indiana University.
Approximately 30 HIV prevention specialists from around the country, including Alaska and Hawaii, have been invited to join forces as a National HIV Guidelines Task Force for the three-day event that begins on Sunday (Aug. 18) at the Indiana Memorial Union.
The Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP) at Indiana University will coordinate the event as part of its goal of promoting HIV prevention among rural communities in the United States. The RCAP, funded by the Centers for Disease Control, is headquartered at IU as a joint project with Purdue University and the Texas A&M University School of Rural Public Health.
Those attending will represent the Navajo AIDS Network in Chinle, Ariz.; Rosebud Sioux Tribe Health Administration, Rosebud, S.D.; U.S. Indian Health Service, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.; Tribal BEAR Project, Seattle, Wash.; Alaska Native Health Board, Anchorage, Alaska; Ke Ola Mamo HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii; Great Lakes Intertribal Council, Lac Du Flambeau, Wis.; Indigenous Peoples Task Force, Minneapolis, Minn.; National Native American AIDS Prevention Center, Oakland, Calif.; Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs, Ore.; U.S. Conference of Mayors, Washington, D.C.; and First Nations Community HealthSource, Albuquerque, N.M.
William L. Yarber, RCAP senior director and IU professor of applied health science, and Wesley Thomas, an IU assistant professor of anthropology and a Navajo Indian, will direct the conference.
"American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians are vulnerable populations in the HIV/AIDS epidemic," explained Yarber, "because they are disproportionately affected by several of the social, behavioral and economic HIV risk factors such as poverty, unemployment, alcohol and drug use and risky sexual behaviors."
Thomas, whose research interest includes HIV/AIDS in American Indian communities, said that although the incidence of HIV/AIDS in these populations is small, the impact is "devastating" because of "denial of the HIV problem and under funded and inadequate prevention services that often fail to address unique risk factors and varied sexual identities."
Yarber and Thomas said the conference goal is "publication of HIV prevention guidelines that are valuable to those conducting HIV prevention programs for native peoples, particularly those in the most rural areas." The publication will be sponsored by RCAP and the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center in Oakland.
"HIV/AIDS must be made visible to all of these communities through increased collaboration of tribal leaders, the government and non-profit agencies," said Yarber. "Prevention guidelines are needed for 'front-line' HIV educators to provide guidance in implementing and conducting more effective programs," said Thomas.