About the Banyan Tree Project

What is the Banyan Tree Project?

The Banyan Tree Project is a national social marketing campaign to stop HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Asian & Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities.

We live in a world that does not always treat people living with or at-risk for HIV/AIDS with respect and dignity. In our communities, this type of discrimination prevents A&PIs from getting tested for HIV and from getting health care and other services they need to stay healthy.

The Banyan Tree Project is about:

Education

We are teaching A&PIs about how HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS-related stigma affect our communities.

Rooted in Acceptance

We are building a community free of stigma – where A&PIs affected byliving with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS feel safe, respected and accepted.

Access to Services

By reducing stigma, we open the door for A&PIs living with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS to get tested and get health services, including treatment, care and support.

Education

Throughout the year, organizations and individuals all over the country get the word out about how HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS-related stigma affect A&PIs, through speakers’ panels, conferences, television ads, news articles, and many other methods. In addition, special events are held each year on May 19th to honor National A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Rooted in Acceptance

When we have knowledge, fear is transformed into understanding and compassion. A&PIs living with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS deserve to be treated just like everyone else – with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, many A&PIs affected by HIV/AIDS have been rejected by their families, their loved ones and their communities. Through education, the Banyan Tree Project helps people accept A&PIs living with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS, so that they do not have to be afraid or feel ashamed.

Access to Services

Many A&PIs do not seek services because they are afraid to be seen walking into an AIDS clinic or into an agency that provides HIV tests. If a friend or a family member saw them, they might be rejected or shunned in their family or community. In a world free of stigma, A&PIs could access the services they need to stay healthy without fear or shame. This is the ultimate goal of the Banyan Tree Project – to improve the health of A&PIs by increasing their use of HIV prevention and treatment services. When stigma is eliminated, this becomes possible.

Why the banyan tree?

In many A&PI cultures, the banyan tree is a meaningful symbol. Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, a type of banyan tree. Its fan-shaped leaves offer shade for weary travelers – a place where A&PIs living with, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS can feel safe and sheltered. Its branches continually shoot out new roots into the ground, symbolizing the spreading of knowledge and acceptance of A&PIs with HIV/AIDS.

The Banyan Tree Project is made possible with generous support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

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The Banyan Tree Project is a program of Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Our partners are nonprofit and community-based organizations dedicated to providing HIV referrals, education, outreach, advocacy, prevention and care services to A&PI communities.

This web site was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 1U65PS002095-01 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Taking Root Digital Storytelling Initiative is also supported by the Office of Minority Health Resource Center. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Office of Minority Health Resource Center.