Navajo-area health officials see rise in HIV cases

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) March 2011

Indian Health Service officials say they’ve seen an increase in the number of new HIV cases on the Navajo Nation.

About 15 new cases were diagnosed at Navajo-area facilities in 2000. That number stood at 40 for 2009 and 35 last year.

Infectious disease specialist Jonathan Iralu says he’s hopeful that screening, outreach efforts and an expansion of clinical services will help increase awareness of risk factors and prevent the spread of HIV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overall rate of HIV and AIDS diagnosis for American Indians and Alaska Natives has been higher than that of whites but generally lower than blacks or Hispanics.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.