Tuesday, May 19, marks National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NAPIHAAD) 2020. Created by the Banyan Tree Project, a project of API Wellness, the day is an opportunity to highlight how HIV uniquely affects these populations.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Asian Americans in the United States testing positive for HIV increased 42% between 2010 and 2016. This was mostly due to diagnoses among gay and bi Asian men. Overall, Asian Americans account for 6% of the population but made up 2% of HIV diagnoses in 2017 in the country and dependent areas.

“Although API HIV/AIDS infection rates appear low [at only 6% of total infections], those statistics are deceptive as a significant amount of underreporting occurs due to stigma,” Lance Toma, chief executive officer of API Wellness, tells Legacy Community Health in that organization’s article about NAPIHAAD. “Stigma prevents people from discussing HIV/AIDS with their communities and providers, which is one reason why APIs are the least likely race to get tested for HIV.”

According to additional CDC data, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) accounted for 0.2% of the U.S. population in 2018. Because of this small size, it’s more difficult to ascertain specific ways HIV affects these groups. However, among the 37,968 new HIV cases that year, 68 were among NHOPI. This further breaks down into 63 among men and 5 among women. The primary mode of transmission was male-to-male sexual contact. Overall, the CDC estimates that about 1.2 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2018 and of those, about 1,100 were NHOPI.