Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Culture, behavior may be to blame.

As the number of HIV cases spikes among Navajo people, doctors are becoming increasingly worried that the virus is reemerging after years of success in beating back the disease in the United States. Cultural taboos and the closeness of Navajo society may be to blame.

AIDS is more deadly for Native Americans than for people of other races.

AIDS is more deadly for Native Americans than for people of other races.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Navajo, HIV, AIDS, health, taboos, gay, culture, testing, disease


GALLUP, NM (Catholic Online) - Infections of HIV are up about 20 percent in 2012 with 47 new cases diagnosed on the reservation near Gallup New Mexico. A new report from the Indian Health Services shared the alarming statistics which represent the single largest number of annual infections reported by the agency.

Dr. Jonathan Iralu, an infectious disease specialist, told the New York Times, "I'm scared to death. The numbers show there is a dangerous rise, and the time to act is now, before it's too late."

Dr. Iralu compiled the report and spoke to the publication about his early experiences with the disease in the late 1980s. Iralu reflected on how men would enter the hospital "with a fever or a cough, and a few days later they would be dead," the story explained.

Over the past decade, advancements have been made in HIV/AIDS awareness and in treatments that can stall the progress of the disease, thus prolonging the life of patients by years to decades.

However, in 2012, the disease appears to have come back with a  vengeance. There are now About 200 Navajo patients being reported by clinics. The actual rates of infection may be much higher.

Cultural barriers prevent people from speaking to family and friends about their illness and even elders of the tribe refuse to speak about it, let it become a self-fulfilling prophecy that the tribe will suffer from the disease.

Yet, the disease is present and spreading.

The majority of the clients Dr. Iralu sees are men engaged in homosexual activity. They still keep their relationships private and rarely speak to others. These men seek treatment, but do not discuss their behavior or illness with others, making it difficult to stop the spread of the disease.

It's easy to understand why. One Navajo man told Dr. Iralu that when he told his mother he had HIV, she refused to speak to him and served his food on disposable plastic plates.

The man, now 48, has been accepted by his mother only because he explained how the disease is transmitted and that it cannot be transmitted via plates and utensils. This would suggest the power of communication as a solution, however the unidentified man also told the doctor that he would not discuss his illness with his brothers because they might shun him.

Reservation life is very close-knit and everyone on the reservation knows one another. Privacy is difficult to come by. This leads to stigmatization and an avoidance of treatment and other behaviors that could save lives because people would rather suffer quietly than be embarrassed before their family and friends.

The issue is significant for the Navajo and for all Native Americans. Native Americans have a lower survival rate than any other group. This is a direct result of delayed testing and diagnosis. Early detection of HIV is critical to prolonging a victim's life.

The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse as well as diabetes also exacerbates the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the reservation, leading to earlier deaths.

Dr. Iralu told the New York Times that he's afraid of what will happen if the people do not become more open about discussing HIV and getting tested. "I'm afraid that if we wait too long it could turn into a true epidemic," he said.

For people who have already withstood depredations of epidemic disease and racial abuse, it's even more tragic to see cultural taboos exacerbating a problem that could otherwise be effectively addressed.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Health

New plague panic? New strains of malaria appear immune to current treatment Watch

Image of Mass drug treatments have been tried before with varying success.

By Astrid Zweynert, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ka Lar Nar caught malaria for the sixth time when he was working away from home on his small farm in the jungle of southeastern Myanmar but this time it was a lot harder to get rid of it. MIN SAW, Myanmar (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After testing positive for ... continue reading


Growing the Church in China

Image of

By John Smagula

The world's best teas are grown in China, but many of these teas are unknown in the United States. Remote tea farms in exotic locations produce teas that rarely reach the American teacup. Of the 1.75 million tons of tea that China produces each year, less than 2% is ... continue reading


Superbugs strike again: 10 million expected to die annually by 2050 Watch

Image of Drug resistant infections, like E. coli, are expected to resist more antibiotics, making infection prevention impossible.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Drug resistant infections currently cause 700,000 deaths worldwide each year. If something is not done to adamantly fight against antimicrobial resistance, a new study professes that number will grow. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Antimicrobial resistance will ... continue reading


If they can't heave health care than neither should you! The hidden agenda behind Obamacare! Watch

Image of President Obama's Affordable Care Act has failed utterly and completely. It has done nothing but harm the United States and its citizens through direct action and ignorance.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When President Obama undertook his extensive campaign to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA) one of his chief promises was that individuals were guaranteed the right to keep their current physicians, another was that the ACA would allow those on the new health ... continue reading


Explorer Christopher Columbus did not bring 'STD's' back to Europe Watch

Image of Christopher Columbus has a lot to answer for -- but according to some scientists, bringing syphilis from the new world to the old was not one of them.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus had a lot to answer for - but bringing back syphilis from the new world to Europe was not one of them. A skeleton excavated from a grave in Croatia has disproven this theory, suggesting that the sexually transmitted disease ... continue reading


GOOD NEWS: HIV's ability to cause AIDS weakening worldwide, study finds Watch

Image of Some 35 million people currently have HIV and AIDS has killed around 40 million people since it began spreading 30 years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just in time for World AIDS Day, December 1st. comes some most encouraging news: The world has finally reached "the beginning of the end" of the AIDS pandemic, a leading campaign group claimed today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a study of ... continue reading


Fountain of Youth discovered at last? Revolutionary wrinkle cream heralded Watch

Image of Created by Professor Chris Toumazou, Regius Professor at Imperial College London, among his many other accomplishments invented the cochlear ear implant, the artificial pancreas for Type 1 diabetics and the wireless heart monitor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Emollients, moisturizers and facial scrubs are typically used by consumers to keep unsightly wrinkles off the face. Many forego aging gracefully and strive to maintain a youthful face well past middle age. Now, a brand new "wrinkle cream" which uses the client's ... continue reading


How the Obama administration just sued itself over Obamacare enforcement Watch

Image of Obamacare may be intended to have a disruptive impact on medical care, leaving the government as the only agency which can resolve the problems it has itself created.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Obama may face added backlash against his signature healthcare plan as leading CEOs are challenging Obama's "workplace wellness" programs. Although Obamacare has largely been popular with big businesses in the US, its interference with business practices are proving ... continue reading


HEALTH CARE MAJOR FAILURE: One in three Americans postponing medical care due to costs, poll says Watch

Image of Those who already had health coverage are frequently seeing their deductibles go up along with their premiums.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Health care reform was supposed to make health care more affordable - it obviously didn't work as one in three Americans has put off seeking medical treatment in 2014 due to high costs. Especially shameful is the fact that this is the highest percentage since ... continue reading


DIAGNOSIS BREAKTHROUGH: Doctors may soon detect 'pre-cancers' in blood samples Watch

Image of The teams independently found three genes whose mutations accounted for most of the blood cancer risk they saw.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two separate studies testing the DNA of people have yielded what may be a diagnostic breakthrough. It's been learned that many older people silently harbor a blood "pre-cancer." This is a gene mutation acquired during the course of a lifetime that could start ... continue reading


All Health News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 49:2, 8-10
2 Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen; listen to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:3-4, 7-8, 17
3 Mountains and hills, bring peace to the people! ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 1:1-17
1 Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 17th, 2014 Image

St. Olympias
December 17: Olympias born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family. She ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter