HIV / AIDS awareness, treatment could increase with IHS funding proposal

The Indian Health Service is a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

FARMINGTON – Indian Health Service officials have announced that $ 25 million has been offered to help the agency tackle hepatitis C and HIV / AIDS in the Indian country.

The funding request is part of President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal 2020. It is also part of the administration’s initiative to end the HIV epidemic within 10 years, an approach announced by the President in the State of the Union in January.

Rear Admiral Dr Michael Toedt, IHS Chief Medical Officer, and Rick Haverkate, the agency’s national HIV / AIDS program coordinator, made the announcement today during a call with journalists.

The plan and proposed amount would provide treatment and case management services to prevent hepatitis C infection and improve HIV testing and links to care, Haverkate said.

“We are delighted with the President’s initiative ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. We are grateful for this opportunity to fight HIV in the Indian country,” said Toedt.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 2012 and 2016, HIV diagnoses increased by 34 percent among Native Americans and Alaska Natives overall and by 58 percent among Indian and Alaska Native homosexual and bisexual men.

HIV testing increased 63% among American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 13 to 64 from 2012 to 2016, according to the IHS.

Toedt added that the national initiative is a concerted effort among federal health care agencies to target the most affected communities, including 48 at-risk counties and seven states.

“We want to make sure everyone is aware of their infection and gets the treatment they need,” he said.

The announcement was made a day before National Aboriginal HIV / AIDS Awareness Day.

The day is observed on March 20 and provides an opportunity to raise awareness, advocate for more testing resources, support treatment and care options, and remember those who have died of the disease.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for the Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at [email protected]

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