HIV/AIDS Awareness

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Powerful Videos in HIV Awareness Campaign

By Marnette Federis

"Then my 25th birthday came. I never thought I would make it this far," says Filipino-American Henry Ocampo in his video "Parachute."

"Then my 25th birthday came. I never thought I would make it this far," says Filipino-American Henry Ocampo in his video "Parachute."

While Asian-American and Pacific Islanders have very low rates of HIV infection — in the single digits — they had the highest rate of increase in new HIV infections between 2001 and 2008. While other ethnic groups had declining infection rates, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders experienced a 4.4 percent increase.

What’s more alarming to many advocates is the low testing rates within the community. Less than one-third of Asian-Americans and less than half of Pacific Islanders have been tested for HIV. Experts estimate that many who have the virus delay getting tested. If they don’t get tested, they cannot be treated, potentially shortening their lives.

For many Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, the topics of sex and sexually transmitted diseases are taboo.
One reason why people do not get tested is the fear and stigma that surrounds HIV. For many Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, the topics of sex and sexually transmitted diseases are taboo. The burden of shaming one’s family and misconceptions about the disease are high, according to Cecilia Chung, newly appointed San Francisco Health Commissioner and noted advocate for HIV awareness.

“They still have … stereotypes about people living with HIV,” said Chung. “There are surveys where people think that people with HIV should not work at restaurants. … That’s pretty significant.” In addition, advocates say Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have been overlooked in national HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns. Continue reading