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Surviving & Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture

Native Peoples Respond to HIV/AIDS

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Native peoples continue to be particularly vulnerable to the AIDS crisis due to several factors, including a lack of funding for culturally relevant information, myths and misperceptions about the disease and its causes, and community stigma. Native peoples represent a small percentage of both the United States population and the total number of reported cases of HIV/AIDS, but as a group, they have the third highest rate of diagnosis after African Americans and Latinos. The responses to this disparity have varied.

Since 1987, the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC) has offered programs and outreach to Native communities. The NNAAPC’s Social Marketing Clearinghouse includes a variety of educational resources, including posters, which have been tailored to individual Native nations in many parts of the country. Many of the posters displayed here reflect the work of tribal governments and local community organizations as they strive to educate their citizens and non-Native neighbors about AIDS. Although not originally focused on HIV/AIDS prevention or awareness, staff at health clinics and support organizations frequently counseled individuals on pursuing safer, healthier behaviors and, in the process, became key participants in fighting the epidemic in Indian Country. The images here reflect an array of culturally— and oftentimes tribally-specific messages aimed at a broad, new audience that required help and information.