Indigenous Peoples Day- HIV and Access to Health care

Many of us took time Monday to reflect on our nation’s history during Indigenous Peoples Day. We reflected on the damage that colonization has had on Indigenous populations here in the United States and how the aftermath of colonization has been harmful and oppressive.

It is important to recognize that we all are occupying stolen land in every corner of the United States. AIDS United’s headquarters occupies land that previously belonged to the Nacotchtanks who called the area we occupy Nacotchtank. The Latin variation of this name often refers to these people as Anacostians.

It is equally important to recognize that Indigenous people make up for 1.3% of the United States population, but account for 0.5% of all new HIV cases. This number has been steadily rising over the years as well. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, for every 100 American Indian/Alaskan Native living with HIV, only 60 receive medical care, 46 were retained in care, and only 50 were virally suppressed.

This could easily be due to the lack of medical care access for those living in rural areas or on reservations. Even with access, socioeconomic issues persist for Indigenous populations in the United States. This has led to Indigenous populations having up to a 20 year lower life expectancy when compared to the national average.

It is critical to recognize that we all occupy land that was stolen from others. We must consider the hurdles that many face when attempting to access health care when creating our policies regarding HIV, especially those who reside within reservations.

Learn more about the land you occupy, and the Indigenous peoples that shaped your area.