Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee, Acting Director, Indian Health Service
Published February 11, 2019
WASHINGTON — Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services introduced the “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.” As a participating agency head, Indian Health Service Principal Deputy Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee issued the following statement regarding the new initiative, which will help address HIV in Indian Country:
With this initiative, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a real difference in reducing HIV transmission. By strategically focusing our efforts on communities most impacted, and in partnership with Native communities, we can end the HIV epidemic in Indian Country by encouraging individuals to get educated, get tested, get involved in prevention, and get treated for HIV.
While new HIV infection rates have stabilized overall in Indian Country, American Indian and Alaska Native communities have seen a 70% increase in new infections among our young Native men who have sex with men. The Indian Health Service’s goal is to ensure access to quality health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives living with HIV and those at risk of contracting HIV. To achieve this goal IHS is using innovative tools such as telehealth and implementing a strategic public health approach. These strategies are essential to reach our patients most in need.
By ensuring that everyone with HIV is aware of their infection and receiving the treatment they need, we can significantly reduce new infections.