Circle of Healing

A Message from Laura Cedillo from the Native American Health Center commemorating National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 20, 2013.

This year, National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day celebrates life. Our Circle of Healing team at the Native American Health Center delivers this message every day. We walk a thin line between grieving those who have passed from the virus and celebrating the dignity and miracles of moving forward. Our Circle of Healing knows that we have work to do.

The Center for Disease Control tells us that the infection rates among American Indians or Alaska Natives has increased by 8.7% from 2007 to 2010. Our community has the third highest new infection rate among various ethnic groups, and only 88% of those of us infected live longer than three years after diagnosis (CDC, 2012). For a population that ranks only 1% of the total population of this country, this is devastating information. Of course there are gaps to consider in the data: the misclassification of Native peoples in the U.S Census, multi-tribal individuals made to identify as one race or tribe, institutionalized racism, and the allocation of services based on blood quantum and federal recognition. These are factors that impact HIV treatment and prevention services. The reported data or the lack of data can underestimate the services needed and the effects of the virus in Native communities across the country. HIV/AIDS has reached the homes and communities of many of our Native peoples on and off reservations, rural to urban settings. With aunts, uncles, partners, cousins, brothers and sisters who are living with HIV/AIDS and those whose status is still unknown, HIV affects us all.

Our Circle of Healing team gives a face to the statistics. We have a team of dedicated people who come from Native communities. We have service providers who are culturally in tune to the needs of the community and doctors such as Dr. Tokumoto who are experts in their field. Our Circle of Healing uses traditional healers, western medicine, western psychology, education, tribal stories, talking circles, writing and traditional arts to acknowledge the multi-faceted nature of healing. We consider the humanity of our community members who are living with the virus and those who are working to prevent it. Our team acknowledges the strengths and resiliency in Native cultures and looks forward to taking part of the healing and rebuilding of healthy Native communities.

All My Relations,
Laura Cedillo
Circle of Healing Department
Native American Health Center