Asian American/Pacific Islander Community Poses Cultural, Linguistic Challenges to AIDS Prevention Efforts, Surgeon General Says
Although less than 1% of all U.S. reported AIDS cases are among Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, this figure "only scratches the surface of the real health threat that exists within this community," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher writes in his May opinion piece. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent the "fastest growing racial/ethnic group" in the United States, comprising about 4% of the population, Satcher writes. Over 5,500 of the 753,907 reported U.S. AIDS cases are from this group and nearly two-thirds of those cases are among gay and bisexual AA/PI men. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among bisexual men also puts AA/PI women at risk through heterosexual contact, Satcher writes. In addition, according to the U.S. census, about 60% of AA/PIs were born outside of the country, and 40% of Asian Americans and Pacific islanders have "limited English proficiency," posing challenges for HIV/AIDS prevention programs. "[I]nterventions and health promotion materials that are in English will not reach" a large part of the AA/PI population, Satcher writes, leading those without access to these materials to "believe myths about who is at risk" of HIV infection. "[C]ultural attitudes" such as homophobia and the "stigma" attached to HIV/AIDS also prevent many people from getting tested or seeking treatment, Satcher continues. Satcher's Leadership Campaign on AIDS "tackles the issues of HIV among communities of color" and seeks to "mobilize leadership involvement." Together with information being assembled by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and "other partners," TLCA "can effectively educate, motivate and mobilize against HIV/AIDS in Asian American/Pacific Islander communities," Satcher concludes (Office of the Surgeon General release, May 2001).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.