National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

(Also known as National API HIV/AIDS Awareness Day)

National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed next on Friday, May 19th, 2023 (172 days from today).

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National

May 19th is National Asian & Pacific Community HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to break the silence on HIV and AIDS in the Asian and Pacific Islander community and to encourage individuals to get tested for HIV.

National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was established by the Banyan Tree Project, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to end the silence and shame surrounding HIV and AIDS among Asian and Pacific Islander populations, help prevent HIV and help people who are living with this disease.

History of National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

According to the CDC, 66.5% of Asian Americans and 43.1% of Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders have never been tested for HIV.

Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPIs) make up 0.2% of the U.S. population and account for a very small percentage of new HIV diagnoses in the United States — less than 1% in 2016. However, HIV affects NHOPIs in ways that are not always clear.

Gay and bisexual men accounted for 65% (35) of HIV diagnoses among NHOPIs in 2016, and HIV diagnoses increased by 51% (from 55 to 83) among NHOPIs overall between 2011 and 2015 in the United States and six dependent regions. In 2015, an estimated 1,100 NHOPIs were living with HIV; 82% had been diagnosed and as of 2014, 60% had received medical care for HIV, 43% received continued care and 50% had a suppressed viral load.

Asians, who make up 6% of the US population, accounted for 2% (970) of the 40,324 new HIV diagnoses in this country and six dependent regions in 2016. Among Asians diagnosed with HIV in 2016, 84% (825) were men and 15% (145) were women; Gay and bisexual men account for 90% (740) of HIV diagnoses among all Asian men. In 2015, an estimated 15,800 Asians were living with HIV in the United States; 80% had been diagnosed and as of 2014, 57% received medical care for HIV, 46% received continued care and 51% had a suppressed viral load.

Why does this small population carry such a large burden of HIV infection, commensurate with the size of the community, and why is so little known about it? The CDC offers their suggestions as to why the disparity is so large. It has been suggested that cultural factors, such as language barriers and immigration issues, can add to barriers to healthcare (however, this only addresses access to health care) access to care for Asian immigrants, not Asian Americans who have lived here for several generations). Barriers to care can prevent a person from even knowing they were infected in the first place, let alone accessing treatment or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The CDC also posits the fact that there simply hasn't been enough research done on this demographic. According to the CDC's website, "Only a handful of prevention programs were targeted due to limited research." - According to the CDC, 66.5% of Asian Americans and 43.1% of Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders have never been tested for HIV — they continue, "Race/ethnic misidentification may lead to an underestimation of HIV cases."

Lance Toma, an executive director at API Wellness said that we need encourage APIs, especially transgender and young, to start talking, testing and discussing PrEP with their doctors. People need to know that saving faces can't keep us safe. Toma continued, adding that the low rate of PrEP use is due to a lack of awareness about the drug, misconceptions about its affordability, misinformation about its effects, and fear of community stigma about it.

It is known that daily use of PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV transmission from sex by more than 90%. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70 percent. But in the API community, 20% of people living with HIV do not know they are infected, only 58% of those who know are receiving HIV treatment, and of those, only 46% remain in care. “While the HIV API/AIDS prevalence seems low [only 6% of total infections], those statistics are deceiving because a significant amount of underreporting occurs due to stigma,” said Toma. Stigma prevents people from discussing HIV/AIDS with their communities and providers, which led API is the race least likely to get tested for HIV. If you don't know your HIV status, CAP recommends getting tested regularly. CAP offers free testing to everyone at multiple locations. We also have experienced PrEP Navigators and Insurance Navigators who are here to help access Health Insurance, PrEP and PEP!

How to celebrate the day

  • Know the truth

The API community is the fastest growing minority community in the United States. However, from 2014-2018, annual HIV diagnoses among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the US and dependent regions remained stable. Asians, who make up 6% of the population, accounted for about 2% of HIV diagnoses in 2018 in the US and dependent regions. Although Asians and Pacific Islanders make up a small percentage of people living with HIV in the United States, preventing new HIV infections and helping people living with HIV are linked to treatment and care. Effective HIV care is essential aspects of our work to end the HIV epidemic.

For more information, the US HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard (AHEAD) displays national HIV data for the broader API community across six EHE indicators including HIV diagnoses, links to care HIV health, morbidity, status knowledge, PrEP coverage, and viral suppression.

  • Know your status

In recent years, annual HIV diagnoses have increased for some in the API community, such as API youth and men who have sex with men. Knowing your status gives you helpful information so you can take steps to reduce your risk of HIV and ensure your health. Use the HIV Testing & Care Sites Locator to find a clinic near you or choose from the self-testing options available.

Additionally, CDC's Let's Stop HIV Together campaign provides resources to promote testing and treatment for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.

  • Get a free PrEP

Asians and Pacific Islanders have low PrEP coverage compared to other ethnic groups in the United States Ready, Set, PrEP Program is a nationwide program that provides free PrEP drugs to uninsured people prescription drug coverage. If you are not eligible for this program, talk to your healthcare provider for other federally funded options.

  • Stay care

Telehealth, self-testing and expanded pharmacy services make it easier to access HIV testing, treatment and prevention services. Talk to your healthcare provider about care options that meet your needs.

  • Join the discussion

Stay up-to-date on National Asia & Pacific HIV/AIDS Awareness Day using the hashtag #APIMay19 and follow @HIVgov.

Visit Asia & Pacific's National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day page and use HIV.gov's background to share facts about HIV, help raise awareness about HIV, and raise awareness as well as focus on the importance of HIV testing, stigma and its effects. For more HIV.gov resources and updates on other HIV observations, sign up for our email listserv.

Observed

National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day has been observed annually on May 19th.

Dates

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Friday, May 19th, 2023

Sunday, May 19th, 2024

Monday, May 19th, 2025

Also on Friday, May 19th, 2023

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