In an effort to decrease the proportion of HIV-infected people in Native American communities and prevent the spread of the disease, Colorado State University researchers are working with Native communities to initiate HIV/AIDS prevention programs and encourage HIV testing in Native communities throughout the country.
Advancing HIV/AIDS Prevention in Native Communities is a five-year project in which Colorado State researchers work collaboratively with Native communities to mobilize their efforts to improve access to HIV/AIDS services, including prevention, intervention and the promotion of early detection and testing.
"The rates of poverty, lack of higher education, diseases, causes of death, insufficient funding and denial by tribal leaders of the impact of HIV/AIDS in their communities are all contributing factors to an increased risk for HIV/AIDS in Native communities," said Pamela Jumper Thurman, project director and Colorado State senior research scientist with the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity, or CASAE.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of HIV and AIDS diagnoses for American Indians and Native Alaskans represent less than
1 percent of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases reported in the United States, but when population size is taken into account, American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2005 ranked third in rates of HIV/AIDS diagnosis after African Americans and Hispanics.
This project will assess readiness levels of each community requesting services and then will assist them in the development of an action plan consistent with those readiness levels. The program is constructed around the culture of the Native people as the basic foundation of the action plan.
In the past four years, this project has served about 50 Native communities and provided presentations and workshops at nearly 60 HIV/AIDS-focused events.
"The program uses the Community Readiness Model to help Native communities to develop prevention and testing strategies that are consistent with the culture and resources of the community," Jumper Thurman said.
This program is projected to be completed in March 2009; however, Jumper Thurman is planning to continue the project for an additional five years.
CASAE’s researchers received an award from First Nations Behavioral Health Association honoring the work done by the CASAE team and the Community Readiness Model, developed by CASAE and Tri-Ethnic Center researchers, as one of the 10 best "most promising" programs for Native people nationally.
For more information, call (970) 491-3954 or visit www.happ.colostate.edu.