March 20th is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD), a national mobilization effort designed to encourage 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.
In many Native cultures across the United States, the four seasons are highly respected because they closely represent the cycle of life. Spring represents a time of equality and balance and is the only time of the year when day and night are at equal lengths. It is considered a time of profound change, new beginnings and birth, a celebration of life for all living things. It was for this reason that the Native community chose March 20 the first day of spring as the National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
The National AIDS Memorial honors Native Americans lost to AIDS with this special virtual exhibition of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which features 16-Quilt blocks that contain panels made to honor loved ones from the American Indian, Alaska Native and the Native Hawaiian communities.
Through this virtual exhibition, part of the National AIDS Memorial’s ongoing 50-state virtual Quilt exhibition, we share their stories, told through the surviving family, friends and lovers, who stitched together these panels of hope, healing and remembrance, to ensure their lives are always remembered through the power and beauty of the Quilt. Weaved throughout the displays, visitors will experience the beautiful cultural symbols sewn into the panels that are representative of the Native community.
The Quilt is a powerful symbol of hope, healing and remembrance. It is also a teaching tool that connects the story of AIDS, finding a cure, and helping in important prevention, awareness and education efforts to tackle the growing rates of HIV infection in the U.S., particularly among communities of color.
Indian Health Service analyzed HIV surveillance data reported to CDC by state and local health departments focusing on the non-Hispanic AI/AN population more than 13 years old from 2014-2018. Overall, from 2014 to 2018, among non-Hispanic AI/AN, the HIV diagnosis rate remained stable (2014: 7.6, 2018: 7.7 per 100,000). Increases were observed among those in the 13-24 years (8.2%) and 35-44 years (13.8%) age groups, with the latter having the highest percentage increase among all age groups. Overall, the death rates from 2014-2018 decreased by 31.4%.
As for the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population, according to the HIV Surveillance Report 2020:31, HIV diagnoses increased 51% among NHPI overall from 2014 to 2018.
Community Partners for this exhibition include the Indian Health Service, Kua`aina Associates, The National Native HIV Network, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, and Hawai`i Health & Harm Reduction. In appreciation to Gilead Sciences and Vivent Health for their long-standing partnership with the National AIDS Memorial, helping ensure the stories of the Quilt are forever told and providing critical funding in support of our Quilt programs. Special thanks to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for providing Quilt archive materials for some of the displays. Special thanks to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for providing Quilt archive materials for some of the displays.
Resources: IHS HIV/AIDS, NNAAAD, We R Native, Project Red Talon, Healthy Native Youth, Kua`ana Project, Bay Area American Indian 2-Spirits, Montana 2 Spirit Society
Website Banner Photo and Artwork (above): Photo Credit, Britt Bradley, from the exhibition “The Continuous Thread: Celebrating our Interwoven Histories, Identities andContributions” at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, curatedby Carolyn Melenani Kuali`i (Native Hawaiian/Apache). The motif design in thebanner image is from the Pendleton blanket that was especially designed for the firstNational Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The motifs represent the diverse Nativecommunity with the red ribbon in remembrance of those who have passed. Blankets inmany Native cultures are given as honor gifts and this special edition Pendleton blankethas been gifted to honor community members for their devotion in HIV work and advocacy.
AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT VIRTUAL EXHIBITION
A exhibition which includes digital images from thousands of hand-sewn Quilt panels, each visually telling the story of loved ones lost to AIDS. - learn more
MARY BOWMAN ARTS IN ACTIVISM AWARD
ViiV Healthcare and the National AIDS Memorial have partnered to create the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award - learn more
BLACK LIVES AND AIDS ACTIVISM
The coupling of racism and AIDS stigma has been lethal. The National AIDS Memorial has long been committed to giving voice to the stories of Black lives - learn more
SEARCH THE QUILT
Search the AIDS Memorial Quilt, view each panel, search for a friend or loved one and share
your story through our social media channels - learn more
HISTORY OF THE QUILT
Conceived in 1985 by long-time San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones - learn more
Memories of individuals who died of AIDS, stories of survivors and caregivers and advocates, and the broader story of the AIDS epidemic - learn more