May 19, 2016

WASHINGTON – In recognition of National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and National Hepatitis Testing Day, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) released the following statement.

“We honor those in our community who live everyday with HIV/AIDS and remember the lives and legacies of those who have passed from the disease,” said Ed Tepporn, APIAHF executive vice president. “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities are often overlooked in HIV education and outreach efforts as they are too often seen as not at risk. We have some of the lowest rates of HIV testing, and despite improvements, continue to experience challenges accessing culturally and linguistically accessible services. Our communities are also disproportionately impacted by the viral Hepatitis epidemic. We must ensure that sufficient efforts and resources are focused on preventing future HIV and Hepatitis infections in our communities.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent HIV/AIDS surveillance report, about 1,000 AAs and NHPIs were diagnosed with HIV in 2014. AAs and NHPIs have some of the lowest testing rates and only one in four AAs and NHPIs living with HIV is aware of his or her status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These communities face considerable barriers to testing and care, ranging from language barriers, stigma about HIV/AIDS generally and stigma focused on men who have sex with men, as well as challenges accessing culturally accessible care and knowledge about these conditions.

Barriers to testing and care also affect those with Hepatitis B, which disproportionately affects AAs and NHPIs. One in 12 Asian Americans have Hepatitis B and are 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver disease than whites. Vaccination, early detection, and treatment can all drastically cut these figures. May 19th also commemorates World Hepatitis Day.

This year, APIAHF is joining other AA and NHPI community organizations to spread the word about a powerful new prevention tool in the fight against HIV called “pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP). PrEP (sold under the name Truvada) is a single pill taken daily that has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by more than 90% when taken as directed.

APIAHF has been a leader in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and its impact on AA and NHPI communities, including building the capacity of community based organizations and health departments to support prevention and care efforts for over 24 years. To learn more, visit APIAHF’s Capacity for Health site.