Press Statements

VOCAL-NY Marks National AAPI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day as a Part of Annual HIV Awareness Month

May 19, 2022

CONTACTMariah McGough,, 203 470 9979

National AAPI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Comes After HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, a Time to Encourage Treatment and Prevention of HIV/AIDS

NEW YORK — Today, on National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – a part of HIV Awareness Month – VOCAL-NY released the following statements:
“I was diagnosed HIV positive after my husband’s passing in 2012,” said Susan Deonanan, an emerging leader with VOCAL-NY’s Positive Leaders Union. “After his death, I decided I wanted to keep on living, no matter what my diagnosis was. Since then, I’ve been taking my medications because I am determined to better my life. I am proud to say I am undetectable, and I want the same for all others in my position.”

“Language barriers and stigma around HIV/AIDS, queerness and drug use has stopped us from getting the health care we need. This is unacceptable,” said Ruwaida Shaikh (she/they), VOCAL-NY HIV/AIDS Campaigns Coordinator. “We must work to end this culture of silence and invest in culturally and linguistically-appropriate HIV/AIDS testing, care, and education for the Asian and Pacific Islander community.”

The National Asian American & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day raises awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS-related stigma in Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. According to the CDC, only 28% of Asian Americans and 43% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have reported ever being tested for their HIV status. In fact, AAPIs have some of the lowest rates of PrEP utilization and testing compared to other racial and ethnic groups. 

Over 4,000 New Yorkers living with HIV outside the 5-boroughs are denied critical, life-saving housing support. VOCAL-NY, alongside partners, worked to create and fund a rest of state (ROS) rental-assistance AIDS Housing program to be included in the NYS budget. The goal was to create a budget line item change that will shift the $10M that is currently in DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal) to the OTDA (Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance) budget which would establish the benefits as an entitlement as it is in NYC. However, the executive budget, as well as the one-house budgets, did not allocate the required amount needed for ROS, another failure to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to affordable housing. 

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