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Statement from Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, Regarding National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness

Posted May 17 2011 1:01am

May 19, 2011, marks the 7th annual observance of National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The theme this year speaks to us all: “Saving face can't make you safe. Talk about HIV – for me, for you, for everyone.”

As an Asian-American physician who has cared for patients with HIV/AIDS, I have witnessed the stigma that has engulfed this condition. It is time to end it. Raising the issues of HIV and reaffirming our commitment to ending the suffering through awareness, testing, treatment and care would be a powerful way to mark the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases. We all support the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) released by the White House last year: reducing the incidence of HIV, increasing access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) represent 1 percent of HIV/AIDS cases nationally, the number may actually be larger because of  misclassification of race/ethnicity in medical records due to underreporting of HIV among Asians and Pacific Islanders. 1 The NHAS recognizes that a  challenge for policymakers is how to appropriately respond to HIV in communities that represent a small share of the U.S. population.  As part of NHAS implementation, agencies across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are pursuing surveillance strategies and a research agenda to better characterize the extent and burden of HIV/AIDS among all populations, including AAPIs. 2 For everyone, better information that leads to public action can move this country closer to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Banyan Tree Project, the founder and lead organizer of this national observance along with HHS and many community organizations across the country, addresses HIV in AAPI communities and beyond. To find events, posters, and other resources in your community for National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I encourage you to visit the Banyan Tree Project’s website .

To find an HIV testing site or other HIV services near you, visit to access the HIV Prevention and Services Provider Locator. By entering your address or ZIP code, you can find HIV testing, mental health, substance abuse, housing, health care, and family planning resources near you.

Together, we can make sure the NHAS comes alive to support AAPI communities and indeed the entire nation.  To learn more, visit .


1 White House Office of National AIDS Policy (2010). National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States (page 13). PDF available at  
2 White House Office of National AIDS Policy (2010). National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan for the United States (page 27). PDF available at   

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