May 19th marks National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day to break the silence about HIV and AIDS in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, fight stigma, and encourage individuals to get tested for HIV.
The number of HIV diagnoses among Asians in the United States has increased in recent years. Of the 15,000 Asians estimated to be living with HIV in the United States, 21% were undiagnosed. Nearly 2/3 of Asian have never been tested for HIV.
In this community, stigma and shame remains the biggest barrier preventing Asian and Pacific Islanders from getting tested. Shame and discomfort around the topic of sex and HIV/AIDS silences a whole community. On top of stigma and shame, add language barriers, fear of discrimination, the stigma of homosexuality, and immigration issues. These are just some of the issues faced by Asian and Pacific Islanders. Although we cannot solve all these issues in a day, a few months, a year, we can continue to break down the walls of stigma and shame by openly discussing these issues and listening with compassion. Saving face can’t make you safe. For more information on where you can tested and find services, visit https://www.aids.gov/