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U.S. News

Chicago Observes National Asian/Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Day

May 24, 2012

Attendees of the May 18 HIV Health Fair at the Vietnamese Association of Illinois had opportunities to get tested, participate in educational workshops, and hear the experiences of Asian-Americans living with the disease. Event organizers timed the fair to coincide with National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on May 19.

Recently, the Asian Health Coalition completed a three-year comprehensive needs-assessment survey of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian communities living in metro Chicago. The evaluation showed a need for more HIV-related programming targeting local Asian subgroups. The survey's low response rate also indicated that stigma remains an issue in these communities.

One of the event's most moving moments came during a forum led by local service providers. A Filipino-American man stood up and shared with the crowd his status as HIV-positive, gay, Catholic, and in recovery for crystal meth abuse -- "So I have all these elements that are so against my family's tradition." "I guess what I'm trying to do is ‘normalize' HIV and not talk about it in such a way that there's this ‘otherness,'" he said. "We need to be less silent."

"There is this stereotype that Asian-Americans don't have sex, but I know a lot of Asian-Americans who are HIV-positive -- [and] no one ever speaks about that," said the man, who requested that his name not be printed.

"This is exactly why we're here -- to try to communicate with each other to build those bridges," Maher Alhaj, of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Lambda Legal, said of the man's speech. "Hopefully, the Asian community will be more open-minded when it comes to HIV."

Back to other news for May 2012

Adapted from:
Windy City Times (Chicago)
05.23.2012; Andrew Davis

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS in the Asian/Pacific-American Community

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