national native hiv/aids awareness day event in san francisco

Did you know that this Friday, March 20 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day? In honor of this occasion, the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center is coming together with several other organizations to host a Sunrise Ceremony and Procession to create awareness and expose the impact and stigma of HIV/AIDS in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities:

San Francisco, CA. March 20th is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an opportunity to honor those we have lost, and those who still stand, in the fight against HIV/AIDS and educate the community about the needs of Native people in the US. Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center and Shake the Feathers-a collaboration between Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, Native American AIDS Project, and Native American Health Center-have come together to host a Sunrise Ceremony and Procession on Friday, March 20, 2009. A Breakfast Reception will follow the ceremony.

Though HIV/AIDS is a preventable disease, a number of factors-including the dearth of culturally competent health care and testing services, the lack of accurate data collection for infection rates, and the shame and fear surrounding the disease-contribute to its impact in Native communities. Native populations are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and, according to the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center, HIV infection only continues to increase. American Indians and Alaska Natives had the third highest rate per 100,000 people (above Whites) of AIDS diagnoses in 2006, despite having the smallest population. Data for Native Hawaiians are typically included in the umbrella category "Asian/Pacific Islander" making it impossible to quantify the effect of HIV/AIDS on the growing number of Native Hawaiians living outside of Hawaii. In 2007, it is estimated that Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders represented 8.9% of Hawaii's population, but account for 13% of the total reported AIDS cases. From 2003 - 2007, the average rate of AIDS cases for Native Hawaiians and Part Hawaiians was 10.0 per 100,000 people, compared to Hawaii's total rate of 7.8 per 100,000.

This federally recognized day allows diverse Native communities, so often ignored and invisible in the larger US landscape, to come together and break the silence. It is both a celebration of communities and cultures refusing to forget and a memorial for those who have fallen. A Sunrise Ceremony and Procession will be held from 7:00 - 8:30 AM in Civic Center Park, adjacent to City Hall, featuring dance, music and prayer from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners. A breakfast reception will follow from 9:00 - 11:00 AM at A&PI Wellness Center (730 Polk Street, 4th Floor, between Eddy and Ellis). This community gathering will include a screening of public service announcements and a short documentary acknowledging the impact HIV/AIDS has had on our communities. Complimentary breakfast will be provided and free, confidential and anonymous HIV testing will be available for everyone.
If you're in San Francisco, come out and support American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities to address the impact and stigma of HIV/AIDS. For more information about the event, go to the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center website here.

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