Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) may already know about the rising HIV rate in the API community, a rising rate resulting from APIs not being tested for HIV. Only 10% of APIs were administered with HIV tests in San Francisco, a city where APIs represent one third of the city’s population.
But APIs may not know they have the highest HIV infection rates of all ethnic groups, a message that “really need[ed] to be pushed this year” at thursday’s World AIDS day, according to Helen Lin, a medical social worker at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). This year’s 20th Anniversary of World AIDS day preserved the memories of those with HIV and those who died from AIDS.
“The benefits of a World AIDS day event goes way beyond the event itself,” emphasized Lin.
But World AIDS day, alone, cannot raise awareness about the API community having the highest HIV rate. “Much of the responsibility lies with the medical and service provider of the Asian community,” she said while gesturing her right hand.
“It is up to them to present the availability of an HIV test, as easily as they would, say, measure [the APIs’] blood pressure.”
Without these providers, she says, APIs may have HIV until “the end stages of the disease,” failing to reach the goal of preventing HIV by treating its symptoms before it becomes treated at the emergency room.
“There needs to be change in the mindset of providers,” suggested Lin. When the API community chooses not to discuss HIV, she says, APIs are stereotyped as modeled minorities, that they do not have HIV.
This stereotype, in turn, creates cultural stigmas–i.e: fear and shame–about contracting HIV. But Lin mentioned HIV testing should be viewed as apart of the API’s health screening.
APIs, meanwhile, could prevent their encounter with HIV by learning sexual health, learning basic [HIV] prevention messages, and learning how to use condoms.
[These tips] would go a long way in changing the stigma that is attached to [HIV for APIs].”