Saturday is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
To mark the occasion, the Douglas County AIDS Project is offering free HIV testing and information from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.
American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians make up 1.2 percent of the national population, yet this group had the third-largest rate of AIDS diagnosis, followed by blacks and Hispanics.
According to the Indian Health Service, American Indians and Alaska Natives face other public health disparities, including substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. These behaviors put the population at higher risk for HIV transmission.
“Not all infected persons may be aware of their status, creating great obstacles for HIV prevention,” said Sandra Springer, interim director of the HIV/AIDS program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “Reaching Native populations with messages about HIV prevention and education is vital to community health and vitality.”