To help build awareness of HIV/AIDS issues in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, especially among women, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has linked up with 2-Spirited People of the First Nations, a non-profit service organization.
PWRDF’s Canadian program has allocated $60,000 for HIV/AIDS-related activities to be carried out in 2004-2006 by 2-Spirited People, a Toronto-based organization which provides education, outreach, support and counseling for aboriginal people who are living with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS.
HIV infection rates in indigenous communities are almost five times more than the average Canadian population, according to José Zaraté, co-ordinator of PWRDF’s Canadian development program.
“Aboriginal people with AIDS face discrimination on multiple levels. These include racism from the general public, discrimination from health practitioners or band administrators and fear of HIV/AIDS within their own community” said Mr. Zaraté in a written report to the PWRDF board of directors.
The program also hopes to increase awareness among indigenous youth, recognizing that First Nations people in Canada represent a “very youthful demographic,” said Mr. Zaraté. He noted that in 2000, 28.6 per cent of HIV-infected indigenous people were under the age of 30, compared with 17.5 per cent in the non-indigenous population.