The rate of new HIV diagnoses is high within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community: one of the few racial or ethnic communities for which HIV rates were on the rise in the last decade. Yet, only 1 in every 3 AAPIs know their HIV status: which means our community has the lowest rate of HIV testing of any group. In one survey, 90% of AAPI Seattle survey respondents identified themselves to be engaging in behaviour that might put them at-risk of HIV contraction, yet only 47% had been tested.
Part of what creates this low testing rate has to do with barriers of inaccess to HIV tests. Many AAPI lack healthcare coverage — which is why the Affordable Care Act was important for our community — and linguistic and cultural barriers further hinder regular check-ups. Even AAPI who regularly visit a healthcare provider might still encounter difficulties accessing tests: only 17% of AAPI women, for example, are ever offered an HIV test by their OB/GYN, which is the lowest rate for women of any race.
Consequently, AAPI receive their HIV-positive diagnoses later after their infection than patients of any other race. 44% of AAPI are diagnosed 1-year after their infection (vs. 37% of White patients); this delay in diagnosis also delays the start of treatment. In parts of California, new HIV diagnoses among local AAPI populations are 4x the national rate.
These statistics demand that our community do more to improve access for AAPIs to simple and effective HIV diagnosis tests that can help educate and empower members of our community with their HIV status.
That’s exactly what APAIT — the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team — hopes to do, and they are asking for your help.