STDs a touchy subject for Tohono O'odham Nation
A syphilis outbreak on the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona has tribal and federal officials treading carefully.

Since January, 46 cases of the sexually transmitted disease have been reported on the reservation. Typically, only one or two cases are found.

In hopes of preventing the spread of the disease, the Indian Health Service is trying to educate tribal members. But that's tricky in a culture where sex is a taboo topic that most people don't want to talk about.

"People will say, 'My parents didn't talk to me about that, and I'm not going to talk to my children about it, either,'" Robert Price, a tribal member who works for the IHS, tells The Tucson Weekly.

So the IHS has had to translate health messages to the O'odham language in a way that won't offend people. Since reaching people in remote areas can be difficult, the tribal radio station is used to broadcast public service announcements.

Get the Story:
Disease and Discretion (The Tucson Weekly 9/6)

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Syphilis outbreak affects Tohono O'odham Nation (08/24)