Started in 2007, National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) helps promote HIV testing in indigenous communities of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities. Want to do your part to promote health and well-being in your local community? Consider becoming a community health worker.
NNHAAD is a nationwide effort that focuses on education and testing. Community health workers can work with the people of these communities to decrease the stigma and increase accessibility of testing options and helpful counseling services for those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Why the Beginning of Spring?
As the four seasons are highly respected in the heritage of Native peoples and closely represent the cycle of life, the beginning of spring was chosen to celebrate this day. Spring signifies a time of equality and balance, when day and night are equal. It is the start of profound change, new beginnings and life.
Among the Native communities, there are other celebrations that coincide with NNHAAD and the beginning of the season. In Alaska, it is the festival of Nalukatak, which takes place at the end of whaling season to win the favor of deceased whales. The Green Corn Ceremony is celebrated by the Woodland Tribes when the first ears of corn are seen, to celebrate the relationships between the humans and corn. And the Native Hawaiians celebrate the season of Makahiki when they sun turns north. This is a season of peace.
What Can You Do to Promote Wellness in These Communities?
There are some great health care careers that can start you on the path towards raising awareness of public health concerns like HIV/Aids in Native communities. To start, we suggest exploring becoming a community health worker to get involved with your local community.