July 9, 2012

Video : Nico De Castro

Take a closer look into Nico’s story as he shares with us his strength and how his family’s support impacted his life.  Nico was diagnosed HIV positive after being tested for the first time when he was twenty-one years old.   As we continue to tell his story, we are reminded of the many lives that are affected by this epidemic, both here and in the Philippines.


Special Edition : APAIT (Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team) Health Center contributed a special article
Chris was living a normal life as a sexually active man. One day on a whim, a friend asked him for support and to go with her to get tested for HIV. He agreed to get tested with her. He was distraught when his results returned positive and learned that his ex-boyfriend of 2 years prior was the root of his infection. His ex-boyfriend was so scared to speak to Chris about it that he just let it pass. Chris was now in a position where he may have infected all others he was with sexually in those last 2 years.

This story is common among sexually active individuals. Among Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs), Filipinos are the most infected community.  One of the scariest things about HIV/AIDS is that no one talks about it. It’s a taboo in a lot of API communities and this stigma creates a silence that allows HIV/AIDS to spread. You might think that HIV/AIDS isn’t a big deal in our communities but the statistics show otherwise. Consider the following:

  • New HIV infections more than doubled for young API men who have sex with men (2001-2006)
  • Annual percentage increase in new HIV infections for API men and women was higher than any other racial and ethnic group (14.3% for women and 8.1% for men of all ages, 2001-2004)
  • Between 2001 and 2008, APIs showed the only increase in the rate of new HIV infections while the infection rate went down for all other racial/ethnic groups

Because our communities refuse to discuss HIV/AIDS, we Asians and Pacific Islanders are led to believe that HIV/AIDS isn’t in our community.  This false sense of security further aggravates one of our biggest challenges: testing.

  • Over 2/3rds of Asians and over 1/2 of Pacific Islanders have never been tested
  • APIs have the lowest HIV testing rate of any racial/ethnic group
  • An estimated 1/5 people living with HIV/AIDS do not know their HIV status
  • An estimated 13,000 people in Los Angeles County are living with HIV while unaware of their status

So as long as our community remains silent about HIV/AIDS, the disease will continue to spread among our family and friends. People living with HIV/AIDS can lead healthy lives, but only if they get tested and matriculate into treatment. That’s why campaigns like The Malaya Project, Barangay Los Angeles’ awareness campaign, are essential. It helps raise awareness in our communities in an empowering way. There are several ways you can get involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. APAIT Health Center, a long-time community partner of Barangay Los Angeles, offers a number of services and opportunities.

  • Get tested, or help a friend get tested. APAIT Health Center offers free, 20 minutes HIV tests from 10AM – 6PM, Monday – Friday
  • Volunteer with either Barangay Los Angeles, or with community based organizations such as APAIT Health Center
  • If you’re living with HIV, seek treatment. APAIT Health Center offers a number of services, such as case management, mental health services, counseling and substance abuse programs

If you’re ready to protect yourself and your loved ones from HIV/AIDS, speak up about this ever-growing issue. For more information, please visit Barangay LA (www.BarangayLA.org), or APAIT Health Center (1730 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 150, Los Angeles, CA 90015) (www.apaitonline.org

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