AZ, NM Legislators Join Forces to Combat HIV Increase

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 In response to the "fivefold" increase of HIV cases on the Navajo Nation since 1999, state legislators from Arizona and New Mexico have publicly committed to join forces to help the tribe combat what is an apparent health epidemic.

Last week, congressional leaders – Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM), Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) - wrote a letter to the heads of the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention and the Indian Health Services expressing their concern of the rapid increases of HIV cases on the Navajo Nation.

"The number of Navajo members newly infected with HIV has risen by over 400 percent in the past 13 years, when new cases are truly preventable," the leaders wrote to Tom Frieden, director for the CDC, and Yvette Roubideaux, acting director for the IHS.

They added, "From 2011-2012, 47 new cases of HIV infection have been diagnosed, an increase of 20 percent from the prior year and the highest number ever recorded among the tribe."

The congressional leaders referenced a report, called the Navajo Area Indian Health Services 2012 Annual HIV/AIDS Report, released by Jonathan Iralu in April 2013, an infectious disease specialist at Gallup Indian Medical Center. Read more here.