The CDC Reports That Native Americans and Alaska Natives Are Four Times More Likely to Die from H1N1 Infection
Cause of H1N1 Mortality Related to Ongoing Overall Health Disparities
January 5, 2010 ~ Washington, DC ~ A study recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed that Native Americans and Alaska Natives are four times more likely to die from H1N1 than members of other racial and ethnic groups. This is of particular concern for Native American and Alaska Native adults and adolescents living with HIV - especially those with low CD4 cell counts or AIDS - since people living with HIV may experience more severe complications from seasonal influenza and, quite possibly, H1N1 infection.
“This latest epidemic is just one more disease Native peoples have had to endure,” says Harlan Pruden, Co-Founder and Council Member of NorthEast Two-Spirit Society, based in New York City, and member of the National People of Color HIV/AIDS Working Group (POC). "The unspoken sad reality is that the death of one person could mean the death of one’s people. For Native people, this is a matter of cultural survival. We call on allies, policy-makers, and private and public leaders to stand with our community at this time to confront not only H1N1, but many of the underlying co-factors that create an environment where a simple flu can wipe us from this land."
Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy and Spokesperson for the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), which also is a member of the POC, concurs: "We know that socio-economic disparities, such as poverty and delayed access to care, have fueled HIV infections and other diseases in underserved communities nationwide - and communities of color in particular. The disproportionate number of H1N1 mortalities among Native Americans and Alaska Natives demonstrates that health care reform and the formation of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy involve more than just saving individual lives; but preserving the future of entire communities."
The (NMAC) has advanced its mission, “to develop leadership within communities of color to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS” since 1987 through individualized capacity building assistance; technical assistance trainings; public policy education programs; national and regional conferences; treatment and research education programs; online and printed resource materials; and a website: www.nmac.org. The agency also serves as a membership association for its constituent AIDS service organizations and minority faith- and community-based organizations delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color and advocates on their behalf in Washington, D.C. NMAC's advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only.
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