For Immediate Release

May 22, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) commemorated National Asian and Pacific Islander (API) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day this week, officially observed on May 19th of each year to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities and the impact of HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination.

“HIV/AIDS continues to affect the lives of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities,” said Kathy Lim Ko, APIAHF President and CEO. “Despite recent investments and initiatives, our communities experience gaps in coverage, difficulties accessing quality care that is culturally and linguistically accessible, and cultural and community based stigma.”

Prevention and treatment efforts have been hindered by the lack of accurate and comprehensive HIV/AIDS data available on these communities. Historically, many health departments have left Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders out of surveillance reports. When these communities are included in charts and graphs, they are often grouped together with other racial groups, most often Native Americans, into an “other” category. Moreover, health departments rarely provide detailed HIV/AIDS information on specific Asian American or Pacific Islander ethnicities.

“These practices have made it difficult to understand the distinct risks and barriers that particular subgroups experience,” said Ed Tepporn, APIAHF Vice President of Organizational Capacity Building. “It also limits the opportunity to adapt and tailor efforts accordingly for population-based differences.”

Recently, there have been a number of attempts at the federal level to improve data collection and reporting, including the Affordable Care Act and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act requires that federal health surveys disaggregate data across seven Asian subgroups and four Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander subgroups, in addition to collecting data based on sex and primary language. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which serves as the nation’s agenda for combatting HIV/AIDS, documented the continuing need for improved data collection strategies among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations.

“We’ve been working closely with our federal partners, including the Department of Health and Human Services, to address the data gaps,” said Ko. “Additionally, we will soon release our own survey across 50 health departments that analyzes data collection strategies in the HIV/AIDS context, identifies promising practices, and provides recommendations for federal agencies as well as state and local health departments to leverage existing resources to expand data collection and reporting.”

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