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by Demian DinéYazhi' and R.I.S.E.

HIV Affects Indigenous Communities

– Reprint

R.I.S.E. is an Indigenous founded artist/activist/warrior initiative, dedicated to the education, dissemination, & evolution of Indigenous art & culture. In 2014, for World AIDS Day / Day With(out) Art, artist and R.I.S.E founder Demian DinéYazhi´ began creating downloadable posters to raise awareness of HIV within Indigenous communities. He posted them on social media with permission to share, along with facts from the USA’s Centers for Disease Control about HIV and indigenous communities. Two of the posters are below, along with updated CDC statistics.

– by Theodore (ted) Kerr

These poster coincides with #WORLDAIDSDAY and #DAYWITHOUTART. As with all our posters, feel liberated to, share, print out, wheatpaste, and disseminate at will!
– by R.I.S.E.

NDN AIDS flag, 2015

NDN AIDS flag, 2015

HIV/AIDS Affects Indigenous Communities, 2014

HIV/AIDS Affects Indigenous Communities, 2014

HIV/AIDS Among American Indians and Alaska Natives (CDC website)

Fast Facts

HIV affects AIs/ANs in ways that are not always obvious because of their small population sizes.

Over the last decade, annual diagnoses increased 63% among AI/AN gay and bisexual men.

AIs/ANs face HIV prevention challenges, including poverty, high rates of STIs, and stigma.

HIV is a public health issue among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIs/ANs), who represent about 1.3% of the U.S. population. Overall, diagnosed HIV infections among AIs/ANs are proportional to their population size.

Compared with other racial/ethnic groups, AIs/ANs ranked fifth in rates of HIV diagnoses in 2015, with a lower rate than blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos,b Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders, and people reporting multiple races, but a higher rate than Asians and whites.


The Numbers

Of the 38,739 HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2017, 1% (212) were among AI/AN.

From 2010 to 2016, the annual number of HIV diagnoses increased 46% (from 157 to 230) among AI/AN overall and 81% (from 90 to 163) among AI/AN gay and bisexual men.d


Living With HIV and Deaths

In the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

An estimated 3,600 AI/AN had HIV in 2016 and 82% of them had received a diagnosis.

Of AI/AN with HIV in 2015, 60% received HIV care, 43% were retained in care, and 48% had achieved viral suppression.

During 2016, 46 AI/AN with diagnosed HIV died in the US. These deaths may be due to any cause.


Prevention Challenges

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). From 2013 to 2017, AI/AN had the second highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among all racial/ethnic groups. Having another STD increases a person’s risk for getting or transmitting HIV.

Awareness of HIV status. An estimated 8 in 10 AI/AN with HIV in 2016 had received a diagnosis. It is important for everyone to know their HIV status. People who do not know they have HIV cannot take advantage of HIV care and treatment and may unknowingly pass HIV to others.

Cultural stigma and confidentiality concerns. AI/AN gay and bisexual men may face culturally based stigma and confidentiality concerns that could limit opportunities for education and HIV testing, especially among those who live in rural communities or on reservations.

Cultural diversity. There are over 560 federally recognized AI/AN tribes, whose members speak over 170 languages. Because each tribe has its own culture, beliefs, and practices, creating culturally appropriate prevention programs for each group can be challenging.

Socioeconomic issues. Poverty, including limited access to high-quality housing, directly and indirectly increases the risk for HIV infection and affects the health of people who have and are at risk for HIV infection. Compared with other racial/ethnic groups, AI/AN have higher poverty rates, have completed fewer years of education, are younger, are less likely to be employed, and have lower rates of health insurance coverage.

Alcohol and illicit drug use. Alcohol and substance use can impair judgment and lead to behaviors that increase the risk of HIV. Injection drug use can directly increase the risk of HIV through sharing contaminated needles, syringes, and other equipment. Compared with other racial/ethnic groups, AI/AN tend to use alcohol and drugs at a younger age and use them more often and in higher quantities.

Data limitations. Racial misidentification of AI/AN may lead to the undercounting of this population in HIV surveillance systems and may contribute to the underfunding of targeted services for AI/AN.

Demian DinéYazhi´’s artwork is materialized through the lens of art production, site-specific installation, poetic expression, social engagement, and curatorial inquiry. DinéYazhi´ was raised in a matrilineal household and their maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Navajo Code Talker. The undercurrents of DinéYazhi´s work include a reverence toward traditional Diné practices, storytelling, traditional ceremonies, and acknowledging the criticality and sacredness of land, while simultaneously challenging contemporary archetypes of authenticity and jurisdiction. They received their BFA in Intermedia Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2014. DinéYazhi´ is the founder of the artist/activist initiative R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment. DinéYazhi´ also serves as co-editor of the zine Locusts: A Post-Queer Nation Zine. DinéYazhi’ is a recipient of a 2015 Art Matters Foundation grant as well as the Henry Art Museum’s 2017 Brink Award. Currently, he has a solo exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, and is in the group exhibition Between the Waters at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

Go back

Issue 42



by Theodore (ted) Kerr

by Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad and Louie Ortiz-Fonseca

by Sheldon Raymore

by Michael McFadden

by Rahne Alexander

by Adam Barbu and John Paul Ricco

by David Kahn and Brooklyn Historical Society

by Dudu Quintanilha

Artist Kelvin Atmadibrata in Conversation with Oral Historian Benji de la Piedra

by Emily Bass and Yvette Raphael

by the People with AIDS advisory committee

A Conversation Between Szymon Adamczak, Luiza Kempińska, and Hubert Zięba

by Demian DinéYazhi' and R.I.S.E.

An Exchange to Expand on the PrEP Manifesto between Carlos Motta and John Arthur Peetz

A Conversation Between Mavi Veloso and Nicholas D’Avella

A Conversation Between Jean Carlomusto, Alexandra Juhasz, and Hugh Ryan

by Nelson Santos

by Tacoma Action Collective

by Vladimir Čajkovac

Cecilia Chung, Olivia Ford, Deon Haywood, Naina Khanna, Suraj Madoori, Charles Stephens