May 19 is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV Awareness Day


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Date:  May 17, 2011

May 19th A&PI HIV Awareness Day: Alarming rise in HIV infections among Asian and Pacific Islander women

May 19th, 2011 marks the 7th annual National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a federally endorsed observance highlighting the alarming rise in new HIV infections among Asians and Pacific Islanders (A&PIs), an often overlooked population in mainstream HIV prevention efforts.  On this day, in partnership with the Banyan Tree Project, Asian Services In Action calls on community leaders, health providers and policymakers to address the lack of HIV prevention information targeting A&PIs, and A&PI women in particular.

Recent analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that A&PIs have the highest rate of increase in new HIV infections in the nation, the only statistically significant growth among any racial or ethnic group, and yet two-thirds of A&PIs have never been tested for HIV. While the disease is still seen as a men’s issue, the rate of increase for A&PI women is actually higher than that of A&PI men.

A number of factors contribute to the HIV risk for A&PI women, including a lack of targeted HIV prevention information for women, unequal power dynamics in sexual relationships, biological differences and the fact that a woman’s HIV risk is often indirect. A woman’s HIV risk is her partner’s HIV risk and many women in monogamous relationships are shocked when they test positive.

“By 2050, A&PIs will represent about 11% of the US population,” says Lance Toma, executive director of A&PI Wellness Center, the lead organization for the Banyan Tree Project. “We could be facing a public health disaster if we fail to address the rise in HIV and STD infections in our communities now.”

On May 19th, ASIA and the Banyan Tree Project support A&PI communities across the nation and the six US-affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions as they host events designed to raise HIV awareness and promote testing.

About Asian Services In Action
Founded in 1995, Asian Services In Action’s mission is to empower Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Northeastern Ohio to access quality, culturally, and linguistically appropriate information and services.  ASIA serves over 8,000 people each year.

About the Banyan Tree Project
Funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Banyan Tree Project is a national partnership that seeks to engage people across the U.S. and Pacific Island Jurisdictions from all walks of life to reduce the shame and discrimination around HIV/AIDS in A&PI communities. Partners include Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center (project lead), Hawai’i Multicultural HIV/AIDS Resource Project of Life Foundation (Honolulu), Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (Los Angeles), Massachusetts Asian & Pacific Islanders for Health (Boston) and Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (San Francisco). For more information please visit

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