Apicha Community Health Center has long been concerned with Asian HIV & AIDS issues. For 25 years, we have provided culturally competent HIV/AIDS Services to Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) in New York City.
This year marks Apicha CHC’s 25th anniversary of our work in the API Community. Back in 1989, our founders worked with Native American leaders to disaggregate “Asians and Pacific Islanders” and “Native Americans” from an “Other” category in HIV/AIDS surveillance data.
Their successful advocacy opened the doors to government and private funding streams that enabled us to build a continuum of HIV/AIDS services, starting with prevention education and outreach to HIV primary care.
Apicha CHC’s HIV-related services are only available in New York City and we know more work needs to be done across the nation. Our colleague at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Howard Koh came up with this list of reasons why more work needs to be done nationally for the needs of Pacific Islander and Asian HIV & AIDS patients. We are reposting that list here to help spread the word.
7 Reasons Why We Can’t Forget About Pacific Islander and Asian HIV & AIDS Patients
This information was taken from AIDS.gov
Low HIV testing rates and late testing.
According to the CDC, more than one-third of Asians develop AIDS soon after being diagnosed, which may mean they are not receiving adequate care and treatment in time to prevent the development of AIDS.
Too many APIs are unaware of their HIV status.
Also according to CDC , nearly one in four (22.7%) Asians living with HIV, and more than one in four (26.7%) Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders living with HIV, don’t know it. Without knowledge of their HIV status, these individuals are unable to take advantage of HIV medicines (known as antiretroviral therapy) that can both extend their lives and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
High HIV stigma.
HIV-related stigma is a primary barrier to HIV testing and access to services in API communities. For this reason, it is important to build a community where APIs living with, and at risk for HIV, feel safe, respected and accepted.
Not enough conversation about HIV and sexual health.
Stigma also discourages API people from talking openly about sexual health and HIV, which can have a detrimental health impact.
Culturally relevant HIV services are not always available.
APIs represent many diverse countries of origin, cultures and customs, and require health services that are culturally relevant. Yet, HIV prevention, care and treatment services are not always available to APIs in culturally suitable ways, which decreases the likelihood that they will know about or choose to access these services. HIV services that are respectful of and responsive to individuals’ cultural needs are critical.
Linguistically relevant HIV services are also needed.
English language fluency is a barrier to health care for many APIs. According to the S. Census, in 2011, 76.5% of Asian Americans spoke a language other than English at home. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders also speak a variety of different languages at home. HIV services and materials should be responsive to APIs’ linguistic needs.
Some providers do not always encourage HIV testing.
CDC recommendsthat all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine medical care, and that gay and bisexual men and others at high risk for HIV infection be tested more frequently. Yet, some health care providers and HIV prevention practitioners do not always encourage APIs and others to get tested. Providers should continue to increase their awareness of the importance of HIV testing for all individuals.
In spite of these challenges, many important advances can reduce the health burdens experienced in API communities. These include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (CLAS Standards), the recent release of the updated Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, and the increased access to quality health coverage offered through the Affordable Care Act.
For more information on Pacific Islander and Asian HIV & AIDS Awareness click here.
If you’re a member of the API community and in New York City, come to Apicha CHC!
If you’re part of the API community, in NYC and not already a part of Apicha CHC’s community, please schedule an appointment today for HIV testing or make an appointment to become a patient!