May 19 marked the sixteenth annual National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Tim Wang, director of advocacy and policy at Howard Brown Health based in Illinois, shared his professional and personal experiences virtually to commemorate the day.
“I think one of the best ways to ensure that organizations are being inclusive of marginalized communities is to reach out and directly engage with those communities,” Wang explains. “Organizations can ask AAPI communities how they can improve or change their services in order to be more inclusive and accommodating.”
Wang alluded to the fact that questioning AAPI individuals directly may be difficult due to linguistic barriers. He stresses the importance of having translators and translated forms available in every HIV/AIDS-related organization.
North Carolina is home to a multitude of these organizations, including the NC AIDS Action Network, RAIN and the Triad Health Project. According to the CDC, both Charlotte and Greensboro are at the top of their national list for highest HIV rates per city.
The AAPI population has grown 144 percent between 2000 and 2016, and the need for AAPI-specific care is vital. Wang expresses his concern for Asian Americans within the LGBTQ community: “Right now AAPI people are experiencing a spike of hate, violence and discrimination. What data we do have on AAPI communities often groups different communities together, but AAPI people are not a monolith.”
Noting the significance of creating safe spaces for LGBTQ AAPI people, Wang recommends that everyone use the CDC’s social media toolkits. To learn more about these, go to bit.ly/3hTmX7I.
Openness in listening to marginalized groups like AAPI or LGBTQ individuals is an integral part of Howard Brown Health’s mission.
“There was certainly a perception that being queer and having HIV was wrong or something to be ashamed of,” Wang explains. “I think that stigma still acts as a powerful barrier for many AAPI people in deciding to get screened for HIV. There’s nothing wrong with being AAPI and being queer, or getting screened for HIV, or living with HIV.”
Join us: This story is made possible with the help of qnotes’ contributors. If you’d like to show your support so qnotes can provide more news, features and opinion pieces like this, give a regular or one-time donation today.