For Immediate Release
July 13, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO – Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) today applauded the Obama Administration for releasing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) to improve management and coordination within the federal government and across federal, state and local agencies and community groups. The organizations commended the Administration for acknowledging the need for better surveillance of the HIV epidemic in emerging populations such as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities, but also called for actions that go beyond surveillance.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities are often inaccurately categorized as low risk. However, the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show AA and NHPI men and women have the highest percentage annual increase in new HIV infections, higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Preliminary projections indicate the HIV infection rate in AA and NHPI communities will surpass that of Latinos by 2015 and African Americans by 2020 if left unchecked.

“Nearly half of all community-based organizations or programs that provided culturally and linguistically appropriate services for AAs and NHPIs have closed their doors within the last 10 years.” said Ed Tepporn, director of the APIAHF HIV/AIDS Program. “The plan identifies surveillance as the primary next step, and while that data helps to set priorities in prevention and treatment efforts, many communities simply don’t have enough resources to carry them out.”

More than two thirds of Asian Americans and half of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have never been tested for HIV, partly due to challenges in reaching diverse AA and NHPI communities – comprised of more than 49 distinct ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages and dialects – with life-saving prevention education information. Other issues, such as cultural stigmas surrounding HIV and immigration status also pose significant barriers to HIV testing and timely access to care for many AAs and NHPIs.

“The effective implementation and evaluation of this strategy will require increased funding and the participation of emerging communities, including AA and NHPIs,” said Lance Toma, executive director of Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center. “We look forward to working with the Administration to reduce HIV infections and HIV-related health disparities, and to improve access to high-quality care for all, free from stigma or discrimination. The window of opportunity for HIV prevention is now. We must respond before it’s too late.”
About Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center is a health services, education, research and policy organization dedicated to educating, supporting, empowering and advocating for Asian and Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities – particularly A&PIs living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. With staff fluent in 20 languages, A&PI Wellness Center delivers programs regionally, statewide, and nationally, and collaborates with community-based organizations throughout the Asia Pacific Region. For press materials or more information please visit www.apiwellness.org.
About the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.