Though Asians and Pacific Islanders account for approximately two percent of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S., an examination of data reveals the barriers that prevent API people from accessing vital HIV & AIDS services.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, API people living with HIV have the longest delay in HIV diagnoses compared to all other race and ethnicity groups — a startling 4.2 years. This delay poses significant risks for undiagnosed individuals and their sexual or drug-using partners.
This National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, HRC is proud to highlight two individuals working to provide HIV & AIDS services for API and other affected communities.
Samuel Park, Washington, D.C.
Park is HRC Foundation’s Program Coordinator for Health and Aging, working on improving healthcare for LGBTQ people and their families.
“HIV & AIDS are disparately pressing issues for communities of color — including the API community,” Park said. “One of the biggest challenges we face is the stigma around sexual health which only perpetuates toxic misconceptions.”
Call to Action:
“Sexual health and statuses don’t have to be shameful topics! Let’s lean into the discomfort and have these conversations with those closest to us. Awareness is not built in one day, but through how we choose to navigate our personal spaces. We can end the stigma in our community by challenging the narrative around HIV & AIDS.”
Vince Crisostomo, San Francisco
Crisostomo is the Program Manager of the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network, a program of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation that supports gay, bisexual, and trans men age 50 and older, inclusive of both people who are HIV-negative and those living with HIV. He will serve as Community Grand Marshal of San Francisco Pride in June 2019.
“I have been HIV+ since 1987. That’s 32 years. Supporting people who are aging with HIV is critically important, because we’re all aging and it’s a new frontier,” Crisostomo said.
“Honoring our elders is such a central part of API cultures, and I’ve been fortunate to have people to look up to through the years. Not all of us have had that,” he continued. “Through the years of the epidemic, so many of us have withdrawn from community because of the traumas and loss we lived through. The 50-Plus Network is a place for people over 50 to strengthen the social supports of friendship and community because they’re what help us live. We also create intergenerational opportunities through fun social events. I never thought in my life that I would be here now as an elder, and I’m inspired by the younger generation of activists who I’ve met through this work.”
Call to Action:
“Speak up. Don’t wait for someone else to appropriate your story or give you space. We have to tell our stories because who else is going to? Our stories have power. There are so many stigmas that make important conversations hard to have, but once we start talking, once we find the words, it’s hard to shut us up.”
For information on HRC Foundation’s work to end HIV and HIV-related stigma, click here.