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North American
native people need culturally adapted HIV campaigns

North American
native people need culturally adapted HIV campaigns

Culturally sensitive HIV programs are needed for North American natives

Attendees at a conference in Anchorage, Alaska, focusing on HIV's impact on Native Americans and Alaskan Natives said Wednesday that culturally sensitive HIV education and prevention programs must be developed to help fight the rising infection rates among native peoples. "HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a terrible predator in Native communities, and most of these communities are unprepared to protect themselves," Jack Whitescarver, director of the National Institutes of Health's Office of AIDS Research, said during his keynote speech, reports the Associated Press.

The HIV prevalence rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives is about one third higher than the rate among white Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The high infection level is linked to high rates of other sexually transmitted diseases and high substance abuse rates, which can lead to risky sexual behavior and transmission of the virus, say researchers.

About 1,000 people are attending the conference, titled "Embracing Our Traditions, Values, and Teachings: Native Peoples of North America HIV/AIDS Conference," which runs through Saturday. In addition to HIV education and prevention, other topics to be discussed at the event include HIV stigma, mental health issues, and spirituality. (The Advocate)

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