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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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Press Release

NMAC Honors National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

May 19, 2010

Washington, D.C. -- The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) honors the sixth annual National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day this May 19th. Established in 2005 by the Banyan Tree Project, this national observance day is geared to stopping HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Asian and Pacific Islanders living with AIDS has climbed by more than 10% in each of the last 5 years. In 2006, more than 15,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. were living with HIV/AIDS; over three-fourths contracted HIV through sexual contact, and 30% were not aware that they had HIV at all -- more than any other ethnic group.


"Many Asian and Pacific Islanders do not know they are risk, since open discussion about sexuality and AIDS in these communities is often considered taboo," says Paul A. Kawata, NMAC's Executive Director. "This year's theme -- 'Saving face can't make you safe' -- clearly speaks to the need to break the silence about HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment in our communities. Our very future depends on it."

The Banyan Tree Project reports that in the U.S., more than half of all Pacific Islanders, and over two-thirds of Asians, have never been tested for HIV. Delayed testing can severely undermine a person's health outcomes and life expectancy, particularly when simultaneously diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. A major step toward mitigating the impact of HIV in these communities, and reducing the stigma associated with it, would be the implementation of routine HIV testing among all adolescents, adults and pregnant women, as recommended by the CDC.

Everyone can play a role in helping to end HIV in Asian and Pacific Islander communities every day. Some action steps include:

  • Learning about HIV/AIDS and its impact in communities of color, and Asian and Pacific Islander communities in particular. Visit The Banyan Tree Project online and learn how you can support National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day activities in your local community.
  • Discussing HIV prevention, and the importance of getting tested regularly, with your family, friends and colleagues.
  • Getting tested for HIV and encouraging your friends, family members and colleagues to do the same. To find a testing site near you, visit, send a text message with your ZIP code to "KNOWIT" (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).
  • Educating elected officials at the local, state and federal governments, as well as civic and social leaders, about HIV, and the need for more AIDS funding that targets, and addresses the needs of, Asian and Pacific Islanders.
  • Visiting the website to learn how you can increase Asian and Pacific Islander representation in HIV vaccine research.

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This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS in the Asian/Pacific-American Community