Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2014) — National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was held on May 19.
Within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, HIV/AIDS is a significant public health concern, which is often compounded by strong cultural stigmas and linguistic barriers to care. To commemorate the day, CAPAC Vice Chair Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU) introduced a resolution “supporting the goals of National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.”
National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was established by the Banyan Tree Project in 2005 to promote HIV/AIDS education and reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community. It is officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and observed on May 19th each year. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) were the only ethnic groups to see a significant increase in new HIV diagnoses between 2001 and 2008.
Despite these increasing rates of infection, AAPIs continue to have the lowest rates of HIV testing. The CDC estimates that 22.7 percent of Asian Americans and 26.7 percent of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders living with HIV are unaware of their condition.
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus also released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“As we observe National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I encourage all Americans to get tested and know their status. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the least likely of any ethnic group to be tested for HIV, and as a result, approximately one in four AAPIs living with HIV do not realize it. The first step towards changing this problem is to educate our community about the very real danger of ignoring this disease. We must also do more to tackle the stigma of HIV/AIDS and ensure that AAPIs have access to culturally and linguistically tailored outreach and care. That is why I am a proud supporter of Congresswoman Bordallo’s resolution to recognize National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. By increasing awareness within our communities, we can break down the barriers and improve the lives of AAPIs affected by HIV/AIDS.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair:
“Despite the growing number of AAPIs who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, AAPIs continue to have the lowest percentage of any community in the U.S. who have been tested for this disease. Discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious problem in our community. National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to draw attention to significant barriers for AAPIs to access culturally and linguistically competent services for HIV testing and to reducing the stigma associated with having HIV/AIDS. I join my colleagues in raising awareness on the importance of getting tested, and I encourage all Americans to learn more about HIV/AIDS and the significant progress that has been made for those living with HIV/AIDS.”
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07), CAPAC Health Taskforce Co-Chair:
“As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we must also be aware of the threat HIV/AIDS poses to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, who have more new HIV infections than any other ethnic group. As a doctor and the co-chair of the Healthcare Taskforce for CAPAC, I know how important it is for us to combat the cultural stigmas and misunderstandings within the AAPI community that detract from HIV testing and prevention measures and encourage people to get tested.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), CAPAC Health Taskforce Co-Chair:
“National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an important reminder that HIV affects all communities and every individual has the right to culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare. While our country has made great strides in combatting HIV/AIDS over the last decade, achieving an AIDS-free generation will require doubling down on our efforts and expanding effective outreach to every community. As a co-chair of CAPAC’s healthcare taskforce, I am proud to stand with my colleagues in urging all people to get tested and know their status.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:
“National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day reminds us of the ongoing epidemic of HIV/AIDS and its effects on the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This year’s theme, ‘Saving face can’t make you safe. Talk about HIV—for me, for you, for everyone,’ encourages us to create a dialogue and overcome the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Economic and language barriers continue to challenge prevention and treatment efforts. As Chair Emeritus of CAPAC, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the House Resolution supporting the ideals of National API HIV/AIDS Day, and of the strides we have made to raise awareness about minority health issues.”
Congressman Charles B. Rangel (NY-13):
“While HIV/AIDS threatens all Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have more new HIV infections than any other ethnic group. Unfortunately, the HIV/AIDS-related cultural stigma in the AAPI community has discouraged many AAPIs from getting tested, and 1 in 3 AAPIs living with HIV/AIDS are unaware that they are infected. It is critical that we come together as a country to promote awareness and reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. As a sponsor of a bill that supports HIV/AIDS education for minority communities, I encourage everyone to get tested for HIV.”
Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28):
“National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day serves as a reminder to us all that despite the great progress we are making in HIV/AIDS research and treatment, there still remains much more to do. On this day, let’s remember that reducing the social stigma associated with this disease continues to be instrumental in achieving an HIV/AIDS-free generation. I am hopeful that that day will soon arrive and in the meanwhile, I am honored to join with my colleagues in commemorating this day and encourage members of the AAPI community to learn more about HIV/AIDS, to get tested, and to stay safe.”