Skip to main content

Originally published Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 9:07 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (1)
  • Print

Number of HIV cases rises on the Navajo Reservation

The federal Indian Health Service’s report shows that the number of HIV cases among Navajo have increased 20 percent since 2011. Combating the issue is especially difficult in a close-knit society where sex is rarely discussed.

The New York Times

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Reservation Indians have had the poorest health care always. And poorest access. Years ... MORE


GALLUP, N.M. — A surge in HIV infections on the Navajo Reservation has doctors and public-health workers increasingly alarmed that the virus that causes AIDS has resurfaced with renewed intensity in this impoverished region.

A report released last month by the federal Indian Health Service found there were 47 new diagnoses of HIV on the reservation in 2012, up 20 percent from 2011. Since 1999, HIV cases among Navajo are up nearly fivefold, the report found.

“I’m scared to death,” said Dr. Jonathan Iralu, an infectious-disease specialist who runs an HIV clinic. “The time to act is now.”

Over the past few years, the HIV numbers on Navajo land have crept up. Though the numbers are still comparatively low the challenges of prevention are amplified in a place where sex is still rarely discussed publicly and infection is often hidden from loved ones.

The intimacy of reservation life, where a hospital receptionist might be a relative or close friend, can be a barrier to swift treatment and prevention. Mindful of those challenges, the Indian Health Service allocated $5 million over the past three years for communities to create HIV prevention, treatment and education programs.

 Subscribe today!

Subscribe today!

99¢ for four weeks of unlimited digital access.


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►