March 20 is National Native HIV and AIDS Awareness Day, and today we are sharing a special message from our Program Director Dar Krom.

Growing up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I did not grow up on the reservation, and because of that, I was the first person in my family to attend college.  I am one-quarter Native American, and registered with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, in Belcourt, ND. 

Today I want to reach out to my native people and encourage them to get tested. Friends, it is so easy to know your status!

Fortunately, I have not lost any of my family members to HIV or AIDS. 

Unfortunately, many of us in the Native American community can say we have known someone that died from HIV/AIDS-related complications, or we know people living with HIV/AIDS.  

Today I want to address some of the misconceptions in our community. 

HIV is not a “gay” disease, it’s transmitted through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, by sharing dirty needles, from mother to child during birth, and breast milk.  

The messages about getting tested or knowing your status, are not messages just for our Native American people they are for everyone! 

Everyone should get tested once in their life and annually if they are sexually active. 

While it is not automatically part of your annual physical you should request that your provider test you for HIV.  

March 20 is a day chosen to reach out to our native people to invite them in for confidential testing, but I will take that one step further and invite you all to come to our free, and confidential HIV testing site at 1200 University Ave, Suite 120, Des Moines, IA.  

Go online or call 515-248-1595 to schedule an appointment. Drop-ins are welcome, but space is limited.

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