National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Native American and Indigenous communities in the United States have been disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS for decades, and the fight to raise awareness and provide support continues. One important part of this campaign is the annual Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, taking place on March 20th. This year’s theme is "Weaving our Horizon: Strength. CommUnity. Equity."
First established in 2007, National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the impact of HIV/AIDS on Native American and Indigenous communities, and promote testing, prevention, and treatment services. According to the CDC, although small in number, among Native American and Alaska Native males, the HIV diagnosis rate per 100,000 population was significantly higher at 16.2, compared to White males at 9.6. Similarly, Native American and Alaska Native females had a higher rate of 3.0, while White females had a rate of 1.7 per 100,000 population. In addition, Native Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV at a later stage of infection, indicating a possible need for improvement in the usage of and access to testing.
In 2021, a total of 195 Native Americans residing in New York State were living with diagnosed HIV. Among them, 74% are male, 51% are men who have sex with men, and 3% are transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary1.
Of the 195 Native Americans in NYS living with diagnosed HIV in 2021, 86% had evidence of care, and 75% were virally suppressed. Native American women living with diagnosed HIV are more likely to be in care and virally suppressed than Native American men. Women accounted for 51 of these cases, with 92% having evidence of care and 82% achieving viral suppression. In contrast, of the 144 Native American men living with HIV, 84% had evidence of care and 71% achieved viral suppression. Explore health outcomes data for New Yorkers living with HIV.
Over the past seven years, there has been a substantial increase in the use of PrEP among Native American New Yorkers under Medicaid, with a 12-fold increase in PrEP usage compared with an 18-fold increase among all Medicaid recipients. In 2021, 86 Native Americans in NYS received PrEP under Medicaid, representing a significant increase from 2014 when only 7 individuals received PrEP. Data on PrEP use for Native Americans in NYS is not currently available for non-Medicaid recipients. Explore PrEP use data.
It is important to acknowledge that HIV surveillance data may not accurately reflect the number of Native American individuals living with HIV (PLWDH). This is largely due to widespread racial and ethnic misclassification of Native Americans, which can lead to underestimation of their presence within this population. Recent estimates suggest that the actual number of Native American PLWDH could be 2-5 times higher than the current reported figures. This underestimation reduces the reliability of estimates for measures such as HIV testing rates among Native Americans in NYS. For more information, visit on.ny.gov/3f0ak9k.
On National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, explore data on the ETE Dashboard to stay informed on the latest trends in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State.
1. Sources: NYS HIV Surveillance System, 2021.