“Join us in our Action and Resilience” – National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 20, 2020

What is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?

On March 20th, we come together for National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD), a national effort to encourage Native people (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians) across the United States and Territorial Areas to get educated, get tested, get involved in prevention and get treated for HIV and AIDS.

The day is also an important moment for Native people and others to remember those who have passed, and to acknowledge those who are affected by HIV/AIDS. March 20th marks the Spring Equinox which, for many members of the Native Community, represents a time of equality, balance, and new beginnings. It’s thought of as a celebration of life for all people.

Now in its 13th year, the 2020 theme for NNHAAD is “Resilience + Action: Ending the HIV Epidemic in Native Communities”. This message highlights current health and biomedical strategies, and community responses to HIV/AIDS in tribal and urban communities.

Quotes from the National Native HIV Network

We spoke to Savannah, Elton and Danner from The National Native HIV Network (NNHN). They told us what NNHAAD, and its theme, means to them.

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is about being good relatives and practicing our cultural values of kinship. Through kinship, we can build compassionate and empathetic services that will help us to end the HIV epidemic and serve our relatives living with HIV/AIDS.

– Savannah Gene

To end the HIV epidemic, Native people can not be left behind by others!!  Native people have continuously been under-represented and under reported. Our numbers & data may seem “insignificant” (to most of non-Native people) but to our Native people it is a life, a language, a culture, a relative, a tribal citizen, a tribe, a nation, a People that is affected! Do not under-estimate Indigenous people but rather join us in our Action and Resilience

– Elton Naswood

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is about opening up the conversation around HIV/AIDS in indigenous communities. Allowing us the opportunity to address and dispel the stigma around HIV/AIDS in our communities. Our philosophy, as indigenous peoples, has always been to think about the community, NNHAAD is one way we can bring it back to the whole community.

– Danner Peter

What is the National Native HIV Network?

The National Native HIV Network (NNHN) was created in 2017 as a community-led response to increase and organize a Native national voice and presence in the HIV movement. You can visit their Facebook page to learn more and see this year’s NNHAAD poster, which was designed by artist Jolene Yazzie (Diné).

Meet the Experts: Savannah, Elton and Danner

Want to know more about Savannah, Elton and Danner? They each shared a short bio with us.

Savannah

Savannah Gene is a proud member of the Diné Nation. She is Totsóhnii (Big Water Clan), born for Hashk’áánhadzohí (Yucca Fruit Strung Out in a Line Clan). Her maternal grandfathers are Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People Clan) and her paternal grandfathers are Tł’izíłání (Many Goats Clan).

Savannah is the HIV Prevention Program Director at the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has worked for the organization since 2010 and is highly experienced in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention education. Savannah is dedicated to ensuring culturally appropriate representation of Indigenous peoples.

Elton

Elton is of the Near to the Water People Clan, born for the Edge Water People Clan, his maternal grandfather’s clan is of the Mexican People, his paternal grandfather’s clan is of the Tangle People, this is how he is Navajo, Dine. He is originally from Whitehorse Lake, New Mexico, on the Navajo Reservation and currently resides in Denver, Colorado.

Mr. Naswood is the Co-coordinator for the National Native HIV Network and was formally a Senior Program Analyst in the Capacity Building Division at the Office of Minority Health Resource Center. He previously was a Capacity Building Assistance Specialist at the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center and was formally the Founder and Program Coordinator for the Red Circle Project, AIDS Project Los Angeles.

He is currently a member of the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition LGBT Advisory Council; member of the Community Advisory Panel for NMAC and the U.S. Representative Leader for the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Naswood received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and American Indian Justice Studies from Arizona State University and attended the graduate degree program in American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Danner

Danner Peter is a proud member of the Diné. He is Bit’ahnii (Folded Arms People), born for the Naakai Diné’e (Wandering People), his maternal grandfathers are the Tabaaha (Near the Water’s Edge Clan) and his paternal grandfathers are the Tachii’nii (Red Running Into Water Clan).

Danner is the Capacity Building Specialist & Evaluator for the STD/HIV/AIDS Prevention Program at the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has worked for the organization since 2017 and is experienced in the field of Indigenous Health with a focus in Infectious Diseases. Danner is passionate about empowering indigenous peoples to develop public health practices best suited to their communities.

Thank you, Savannah, Elton and Danner, for sharing your voices with us and for your ongoing work!

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