NMAC Marks National Asian/Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

May 19, 2011

The following is a statement from National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul A. Kawata:

Washington, DC — “Today, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) joins the entire HIV/AIDS community in commemorating National Asian/Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NAPIHAAD). The theme of this year’s NAPIHAAD is ‘Saving face can’t make you safe. Talk about HIV–for me, for you, for everyone.’ While historically Asians/Pacific Islanders (API) have had the lowest rates of HIV infection of any racial/ethnic group in America, lack of education and perceived low risk are contributing to an alarming increase of infections.

“Recent analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveillance data shows that APIs are the only racial/ethnic group in America where HIV infection rates are on the rise. At the same time, the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that APIs are significantly less likely to be tested for HIV than other racial/ethnic groups. Combined with widespread misperceptions of the epidemic and individual risk factors, these trends raise serious concerns about the potential spread of the epidemic within this population.

“The American API community is extremely diverse, encompassing various nationalities, languages and religious traditions. With the exception of groups like the Banyan Tree Project and San Francisco’s API Wellness Center, the broader HIV and medical communities have failed to adequately address the unique prevention challenges of such a diverse population. We must do better.

“One of the tenants of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is that resources should follow the epidemic. This should include communities where infection rates are on the rise, even if they are currently lower than other groups. NAPIHAAD provides all of us an opportunity to highlight the specific needs of this community and educate our API brothers and sisters about the epidemic. I sincerely hope that focus will continue well beyond today.

Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333