ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control announced that May 19 is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day to break the silence about HIV/AIDS in Asian and Pacific Islander communities and encourage individuals to get tested for HIV.

In recent years, the number of diagnoses of HIV infection among Asians has increased while the number of diagnoses among Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders has decreased. In 2011, an estimated 821 Asians and 68 Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States.

To raise awareness about the impact of HIV on these populations, National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events were held nationwide on May 19. The theme for 2013 is “I'm talking about HIV…because saving face can't make you safe.” Saving face is a common cultural norm among Asian and Pacific Islanders that contributes to silence around talking about sex, HIV, and safer sex practices.

National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was founded by the Banyan Tree Project, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to end the silence and shame surrounding HIV/AIDS in Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

The Banyan Tree Project is sponsored by the San Francisco-based Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center and in collaboration with partner organizations in Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

What Can You Do?

Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948).

Attend an event near you.

Talk with your health care provider about your risks for HIV and get tested.

Get the facts about HIV/AIDS by visiting the Act Against AIDS website including:

– The risk factors for acquiring HIV.

– How to avoid high-risk behaviors.

– How to practice safer methods to prevent HIV.

Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.

Volunteer at a local organization that serves people living with HIV.

Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

Learn more from Asian and Pacific Island health organizations, including:

Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Life Foundation

Massachusetts Asian & Pacific Islander for Health