Today is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Today is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and cities all over the country are having events to raise awareness and funds. One major public health issue among API communities is stigma. It's so taboo to talk about — or even think about — HIV/AIDS that two-thirds of Asians in America have never been tested and one in three HIV-positive Asians and Pacific Islanders don't even know they have it. Asian males were the fastest growing population of people with HIV between 2001-2004. When I first moved to San Francisco, I began volunteering at the API Wellness Center, where Asian men and women talk openly about sex, disease, and sexual orientation. It's also, in my opinion, one of the best places to get tested in San Francisco. I'm going to be at the Bloom fundraiser tonight in San Francisco. Come join us!


  1. White House Proclamation spotlights high HIV infection and health disparities in the Asian communities

    Unprecedented step heralds national observance of A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – tomorrow

    NEW YORK, NY, May 18, 2010– Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA) applauds the White House’s historic acknowledgement of high HIV infection rates and health disparities, in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The White House proclamation for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, issued by President Obama, is the first to either directly or indirectly acknowledge the issues. The proclamation has been issued annually by every administration since 1978.

    In the official document, the President addressed both the socio-economic and health disparities in the communities – “many Asian American and Pacific Islander families experience unemployment and poverty, as well as significant education and health disparities. They are at high risk for diabetes and hepatitis, and. the number of diagnoses for HIV/AIDS has increased in recent years.”

    “It is very encouraging to know that the President of the United States understands our community is severely affected by HIV and that health disparities persist,” said Therese R. Rodriguez, APICHA’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is a great step forward for us – a community that is too often excluded, underfunded and underserved. As the nation observes A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, APICHA restates its commitment to prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS in our communities and we welcome any partner who is willing to work with us to find solutions.”

    In addition to the Proclamation, a Whitehouse letter – issued this morning – expands on the issues. “The number of HIV/AIDS cases among AAPIs may be higher than reported because of underreporting or misclassification of Asian Americans and other Pacific Islanders,” states the letter from the Whitehouse Office of Minority Health. “Many AAPIs in the United States experience cultural, economic and language barriers that contribute to discrimination and make HIV prevention, care, and treatment efforts even more challenging.”

    For A&PIs, one of the fastest-growing ethnic populations in the US, HIV/AIDS is on the rise – according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of A&PIs living with AIDS has climbed by about ten percent in each of the last 5 years. Approximately one in ten Asian Americans is chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Tuberculosis is twenty-four times more common among Asians, as compared the white population. Ten percent of adult A&PIs are diabetic compared with seven percent of the total US population.

    A&PIs are among the least likely to have a regular doctor and if they do access preventative care they are rarely offered an HIV test. Lack of insurance, language and cultural competency among medical providers, and unfamiliarity with the health care system creates barriers to adequate healthcare this population and stigma, assumptions, a lack of knowledge contribute to high HIV rates.

    APICHA believes access to medical care that meets the population’s language and cultural needs will help end these persistent disparities. In addition, the organization believes increased access to the right medical care is essential in curtailing new HIV infections – based on research that links reduction of risky behaviors to regular doctor visit.

    APICHA, with well-established A&PI language capacity and cultural competency, expanded to provide medical services that address the unique needs of the A&PI communities. The organization, founded in 1989, has a history of providing testing and support services to prevent the spread of HIV in the A&PI communities and of offering medical care to HIV-positive people.

    National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, held annually on May 19, is one of the many observances during A&PI heritage month. The observance began in 2005 as an effort to educate A&PI communities about the threat HIV/AIDS poses to them and its devastating effects. The theme for tomorrow’s sixth annual observance is “Saving face can’t make you safe. Talk about HIV.”

  2. It is important to be sensitive to cultural differences ( not only in areas where we are more aware and therefore have moral superiority) in order to understand others and respect their history and currently held beliefs, mores, and behaviors. Idiosyncratic opinions, and misuses of data don’t justify broad generalizations about any cultural group including Asians and Pacific Islanders. How do you know what a group of people are thinking( “or even think about”)?

Comments are closed.