Solidarity Workshop – HIV Prevention Toolkit for Native Communities: Historical and Socioeconomic Health Risks

December 2008 • Issue 9

The National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC) created this HIV Prevention Toolkit for Native Communities to help public health workers better serve Native communities. With this toolkit, we hope to enhance your knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, and behaviors as they pertain to HIV/AIDS prevention among Native peoples.

The Toolkit is composed of six stand-alone modules. You can use individual modules to improve a specific area of your agency’s program, to learn more about a section of HIV/AIDS prevention, and/or to learn more about Native people and health care. As a set, the modules progress from basic concepts to more complex strategies for HIV/AIDS prevention. We encourage you to access the toolkit for your specific needs. In each module, you will find links to key terms, websites of health and Native-focused organizations, and other useful resources. If you need further assistance with your program beyond this toolkit, please contact NNAAPC at information (at)

The entire toolkit is available online at

Module 2: Historical and Socioeconomic Health Risks

Addressing HIV/AIDS isn’t an easy task in itself. Addressing HIV/AIDS among Native populations is even more difficult. It involves the health and psychosocial effects of many other issues: a traumatic history, homophobia and discrimination, poor communication, poverty, and substance abuse. In order to address HIV/AIDS among Native populations, it is essential to understand and respond to these historical and social barriers.

Impacts of Contact and Colonization

Native communities still experience trauma as a result of colonization. Native people suffer from depression, marginalization, alienation, identity confusion, substance abuse, violence, and suicide. All of these traumas play a role in the transmission of HIV/AIDS among Native people.

  • Study the colonization history of your community. How did Native people in your location get to be where they are today? Who did they come into contact with? How were they treated by the colonizers?
  • What type of intergenerational trauma has your community experienced as a result of colonization? Study the diagram above, and think about physical and psychological health problems that seem to transfer from generation to generation.

Activity: Identifying Symptoms of Historical Trauma
Review the information presented in Module 2, sections 1 and 2 [please see the full toolkit]. With one or more of your coworkers, discuss the health and psychological issues that are common to Native people in your area. Do your best to base your responses on real experiences with Native members of your community. As you discuss each health issue, write it into the diagram below, and think about how it connects back (at least in part) to contact [with European settlers] and colonization.

1 Comment

Filed under displacement and gentrification, economic justice, imperialism/colonialism, Native Americans/Indigenous peoples, Solidarity Project, stigma

One response to “Solidarity Workshop – HIV Prevention Toolkit for Native Communities: Historical and Socioeconomic Health Risks

  1. ali22

    Anthony Morgan, now Director of Programs at the New York State Black Gay Network, explains the difference between individual- and structural-level prevention interventions

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