Statement from Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health Regarding National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
"Saving face can't make you safe. Talk about HIV" is the theme for today's sixth annual observance of National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
As an Asian American, I have become fully aware of the stigma and silence around HIV in my community. Saving face is a common cultural norm among Asian and Pacific Islanders that contributes to silence around talking about HIV.
So on this important occasion, I want to acknowledge all the people working to break the silence and address the impact of HIV on the people that make up Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPIs) communities in our country.
Now is the time to recognize the challenges we face, break the silence, and expand the use of culturally appropriate solutions. The Banyan Tree Project, the lead organizer of this observance, and many other organizations have made major strides to share resources, plan local events and reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma in AAPI communities.
We are also working to address HIV in AAPI communities by sharing our voices in the development of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Health care providers, advocacy groups and people living with HIV/AIDS from the AAPI community have answered the Administration’s call for ways to improve HIV prevention, care, research, and treatment in our nation. We are grateful for their suggestions and commitment and look forward to the upcoming release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
I encourage you to join me in taking action on this day. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risks for HIV, and talk about HIV prevention with family, friends and colleagues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. There are numerous free and low-cost HIV testing sites around the country. To find your local HIV test site, visit www.HIVtest.org, send a text message with your ZIP code to "KNOWIT" (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). For comprehensive, government-wide information on HIV/AIDS, visit www.aids.gov.
Together we can end the persistent stigma associated with HIV/AIDS so we can knock down the barriers that prevent many in the AAPI community from being tested or receiving treatment or counseling. Together we can make an enormous difference.
To learn more:
-- National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: www.banyantreeproject.org/ -- HIV/AIDS: www.AIDS.gov. -- HIV among APIs: http://www.cdc.gov/features/APIHIVAwareness/