Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center/

National Minority AIDS Education and Treatment Center


For Immediate Release                  Contact: David Luckett (202) 865-8278

May 18, 2009                  


Banyan Tree Project and National Minority AIDS Education and Treatment Center Join to Commemorate National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


Washington, DC. The National Minority AIDS Education and Training Center (NMAETC) in the College of Medicine at Howard University joins the Banyan Tree Project (BTP) and its partner agencies in their leadership role for organizing and implementing the National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.


There are more than 13 million Asians and Pacific Islanders (A&PIs) in the U.S. making up a diverse population of over 49 ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages and dialects. CDC data show that the rates of HIV infection within A&PI communities are rising rapidly. While A&PIs represent less than one percent of all U.S. HIV/AIDS cases, they account for the highest estimated annual percentage increase in diagnosis rates of all racial or ethnic groups. In fact, from 2001 to 2006, the largest proportionate increase (255.6 percent) in number of diagnoses was among A&PI men who have sex with men, aged 13-24 years.


HIV-related stigma and shame affect the A&PI community, creating barriers to HIV testing and treatment for many A&PIs. Limited resources to serve this extremely diverse community in addition to cultural and linguistic issues further deter A&PIs from receiving timely and quality HIV care. The elimination of disparities in HIV-related health outcomes among A&PIs must involve a commitment to providing culturally competent health care for A&PIs while working to decrease stigma within the community.


By combining forces for National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the NMAETC and BTP intend to increase awareness of the need for culturally and linguistically competent health care services for A&PIs. In order to reduce HIV/AIDS health disparities, the capacity of health providers to deliver competent care must be strengthened. The NMAETC helps clinicians nationwide build skills to better serve A&PI patients. The BESAFE Model of Cultural Competency for A&PIs, developed by the NMAETC, includes guidance and tools to address barriers to care and increase effectiveness of clinical encounters with A&PIs. The model offers a critical perspective for providers serving A&PIs and inspires ongoing learning and education.


BTP, in its role as coordinator of the 5th Annual National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, will premier a new video message by CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN and distribute a new public service announcement on May 19th. This year, BTP asks A&PIs to turn compassion into action by getting the facts, talking to their community andgetting tested for HIV. Everyone can show compassion by helping those already living with HIV/AIDS.


Dr. Goulda Downer, Principal Investigator for the NMAETC, states that “the National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a valuable opportunity to raise consciousness about the impact of HIV/AIDS.” Dr. Jesus Felizzola, Cultural Competence Program Manager for NMAETC, agrees and adds that “we can use this day to encourage A&PIs to get tested and facilitate a dialogue promoting holistic balance and positive change of our communities disproportionately affected by the disease.”


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About the National Minority AIDS Education & Treatment Center: The National Minority AIDS Education and Training Center (NMAETC) is a national collaborative network of clinicians and other experts providing capacity building assistance and related support to improve HIV/AIDS primary care services available in minority communities disproportionately impacted by the disease. Created in 1999 under the Minority AIDS Initiative, NMAETC is headquartered at Howard University’s College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and includes five regional sites located at minority-serving institutions across the U.S.


About the Banyan Tree Project: The Banyan Tree Project (BTP) is a national social marketing campaign to stop HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Asian & Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities, emphasizing HIV education, elimination of stigma, and increasing access to and utilization of HIV-related services. BTP is lead by Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center in San Francisco, CA in partnership with five other A&PI non-profit organizatoins.