December 1, 2010
Written by C.N.
Every December 1, 2010, the world marks the 23rd commemoration of World AIDS Day. HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects millions of people around the world, from all races, ethnicities, nationalities, social classes, genders, and sexualities. As it relates to Asian Americans, the Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center points out the following important reminders, along with a short video:
In late September, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new study estimating that 1 in 5 gay and bisexual men is currently HIV positive, and nearly half don’t know it (in 21 major cities). For A&PIs of all sexual orientations, including heterosexuals, 1 in 3 living with HIV don’t know it. Even worse, two-thirds of all Asians and over half of all Pacific Islanders have never been tested for HIV. Here are more key facts about HIV and A&PIs:
- Between 2001 and 2004, Asian and Pacific Islander men had the largest percentage increase in new HIV infections, more than any other racial and ethnic group
- Between 2001 and 2006, the number of new HIV infections among young gay and bisexual Asian and Pacific Islander men more than doubled
David Stupplebeen at the API Wellness Center writes more about how HIV/AIDS affects the Asian & Pacific Islander (A&PI) American community:
Which racial/ethnic group also has the highest increase in annual rate of new HIV infections?1 That’s right — Asians and Pacific Islanders. If this surprises you, you’re not alone. We don’t often hear the words “HIV” and “Asians and Pacific Islanders” spoken in the same breath. Maybe that’s one reason two — thirds of A&PIs have never been tested for HIV — the lack of information certainly makes it easy to assume A&PIs are unaffected by the disease. If you are A&PI, you are far less likely to get tested for HIV than your African — American or Latino peers. . . .
A&PIs aren’t prioritized as a population for HIV prevention because the number of A&PIs living with HIV/AIDS is considered “too low.” But if 1 in 3 A&PIs living with HIV don’t know it, and two — thirds have never been tested, is it any wonder rates appear “too low?” If you don’t know you’re at risk, why bother to get tested? Clearly, there are issues with under — reporting and under — testing; using the lack of data as a reason to deny resources to a community in need is circular logic. . . .
When A&PIs do get tested, it is often very late: A&PIs are the most likely to develop an AIDS diagnosis within 12 months of testing positive for HIV. A diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is highly stigmatized, often leading to rejection by family, friends and the greater A&PI community. This stigma can be so brutal that many A&PIs living with HIV/AIDS abandon their families and friends and move to a different city or state to seek treatment. . . .
Tragedies like this highlight the importance of this year’s World AIDS Day theme: “Universal Access and Human Rights.” We need to do more to make sure that A&PIs have ways to access information and testing and increase awareness in the community so people living with HIV/AIDS can exercise their right to access care when and where they want. We cannot wait until HIV infections among A&PIs are too pervasive to ignore.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "World AIDS Day 2010" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2010/12/world-aids-day-2010/> ().
Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=1677