Woman Shares Story To Help Prevent The Spread of HIV/AIDS

New Town, ND - Today is National Native American HIV and AIDS Awareness Day.

Students in New Town attended a youth conference to learn about the severity of HIV and AIDS in Indian Country.

One woman came from Tulsa, Oklahoma to share her story.

(Shana Cozad/HIV Survivor) "HIV has changed my life in every possible facet imaginable."

Shana Cozad has been HIV positive for 24 years.

She said she's in New Town to let young people know about the sad reality of the virus.

(Cozad) "We know that HIV and STIs in Indian country are just really horrible. We are just particularly vulnerable and prone. We like to think that we are isolated and unsusceptible, but that couldn't be further from the truth."

Cozad said being public about her HIV has been an odd sacrifice - but that she wants to be able to show people what it's like, in hopes that they will be safer than she was.

(Cozad) "Hopefully this community here doesn't have to walk in the shoes that I've been walking in."

(nats) "More than 34 million people world wide are infected with HIV."

(Isabella Tiokasin/Freshman, New Town High School) "We don't know where to buy condoms or how to even talk to our parents about it. It's pretty good that they brought us out here to educate us instead of just having us find out on our own or sometimes having us make some mistakes."

(Cozad) "It has shown me a lot about the world. It has shown me who my friends are. It has shown me which of my family are with me and support me. It's a hard way to learn those lessons."

Tribal Health Director Red Fox Sanchez said the importance of today's conference is that the students feel comfortable having conversations and asking questions about HIV and AIDS, so that they can make the right decisions to keep them free of disease.

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