Honda Sponsors Legislation To Eliminate Health Care Disparities Among Immigrant Communities

May 18, 2006

Washington, DC - Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Mike Honda (D-CA) and other CAPAC members today joined community health advocates around the country in recognizing the Second Annual National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, organized around the theme "I Am Still Me".

Part of the Banyan Tree Project, this national campaign is designed to "foster acceptance and reduce stigma towards Asian and Pacific IslanderAmericans at risk for or infected with HIV/AIDS."

Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs) are among the fastest growing racial/ethnic populations in the United States. Despite stereotypes depicting APIAs as "model citizens" who enjoy perfect health, health advocates point out that HIV/AIDS awareness is widely lacking in this community.

There are an estimated 4,045 APIAs living with AIDS, a 55% increase since 2000; and APIAs have disproportionately higher rates of preventable diseases that are co-factors for HIV/AIDS - including hepatitis B and tuberculosis - than white Americans.

Amongst APIAs, men account for the vast majority of AIDS cases, with 58% occurring among men who have same-sex relations. Among APIA women, 47% of AIDS cases were attributed to heterosexual contact.

"One of the main stumbling blocks APIAs face in confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic is the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate health care for many American immigrant populations," noted Rep. Honda. "To address this unacceptable reality, I have introduced H.R. 3561, the 'Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act' which would remove language and cultural barriers to accessing optimal health care, strengthen institutions that serve communities of color populations and improve workforce diversity in the health care industry," he said, concluding, "This is a crisis of stunning proportions afflicting one of the most dynamic ethnic American communities. The Banyan Tree Project is to be applauded for its efforts, and I will give my all to support them."

Rep. Honda further lauded the Congressional Tri-Caucus (Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus & Congressional Hispanic Caucus) for securing the inclusion of the Minority AIDS Initiative in the Ryan White CARE Act, which will soon come to the U.S. Senate floor for reauthorization. "I urge my Senate colleagues to act quickly and ensure the continuity of this law which is so crucial in providing HIV/AIDS treatment to underserved communities," Honda said.

"HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of too many Americans, and hit many communities of color - Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in particular. HIV/AIDS is a global public health issue for which the United States is called upon to assert leadership," said CAPAC Health Task Force Chair Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU). "More resources - from both public and private sources - should be committed to addressing prevention, treatment, and finding a cure," she said. "CAPAC is committed to overcoming these challenges, to eliminating cultural barriers affecting access to information and care, and to addressing disparities in treatment experienced by minority communities," concluded Bordallo.


Daniel Kohns

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