May 19: National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
By Stephanie Goss and David Stupplebeen
May 18, 2010
This article was cross-posted from the AIDS.gov blog. Stephanie Goss is the Communications Manager and David Stupplebeen is the Media & Communications Coordinator at the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center.
On May 19, Asian & Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities across the U.S. and Pacific Island Jurisdictions will gather at over 25 events to acknowledge the impact of HIV on A&PIs, an often overlooked population at increasing risk for HIV. May 19, 2010, marks the 6th annual observance of National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year's theme is "Saving face can't make you safe. Talk about HIV."
Miguel Gomez from AIDS.gov spoke to Lance Toma, Executive Director of the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, about May 19:
The threat of HIV/AIDS continues to grow in the U.S., particularly in communities of color who collectively represent 70% of the national epidemic. The impact of the disease among A&PIs is alarming; the most recent data shows A&PI men and women have the highest percentage annual increase in new HIV infections, higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Similarly, HIV infection rates among A&PI youth are on the rise. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of HIV diagnoses among young A&PI gay men more than doubled. Despite this, over two thirds of A&PIs have never been tested for HIV.
It can be challenging to reach the diverse community of more than 13 million A&PIs in the U.S. -- making up a population of over 49 distinct ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages and dialects -- with life-saving prevention education information. The need for culturally and linguistically competent health information and providers is great, yet HIV prevention information is available mostly in English and Spanish. This, coupled with the common misconception that A&PIs are at "low risk" for HIV, makes it difficult to communicate HIV risk to many A&PIs.
You can find out more about National A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at: www.banyantreeproject.org.
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