The Indian Health Service released a new report recently showing that HIV infections are on the rise in the Navajo nation. The tally of new cases from last year represents the highest annual number ever recorded among the tribe by the health agency.
The federal report released last month found that there were 47 new diagnoses of human immunodeficiency virus on the reservation in 2012, up 20 percent from 2011. Since 1999, new H.I.V. cases among Navajo are up nearly fivefold, the report found.
According to the report, men who have sex with men accounted for nearly half of the new cases.
An ad encouraging American Indians get H.I.V. testing.(Navajo Aids Network)
“We’re having an increase in the diagnosis partly because we’re looking in places we didn’t used to look,” Lisa Neel, analyst for the Indian Health Service HIV/AIDS program, told Fronteras Desk. “That is supported by the fact that we are finding people earlier in their infection before they are clearly sick with opportunistic infections.”
Beyond the Navajo Nation, the overall rate of HIV and AIDS diagnosis for American Indians and Alaska Natives has been higher than the rate for whites, but generally lower than that of blacks or Latinos, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the chances for survival after an AIDS diagnosis were lower for Native Americans than any other racial group.