APICHA COMMEMORATES WORLD AIDS DAY
On December 1, 2004, APICHA will host two events to commemorate
World AIDS Day. The activities will start at 9:00 A.M. with a
breakfast featuring a presentation by Dr. John J. Chin, senior
research associate at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM)
and a member of APICHA's board of directors, followed by a prayer
service at 11 A.M., led by members of the Asian and Pacific Islander
(A&PI) HIV faith-based initiative.
APICHA has invited various spiritual leaders of diverse religious
affiliations in the A&PI (Asian and Pacific Islander) communities,
clients and friends to attend the events, which will be held at
APICHA's office, 150 Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan, New
York City. A moment of silence will take place during the prayer
gathering to honor APICHA clients and friends who have passed
on. Attendees will also have the opportunity to reflect on the
meaning of this year's World AIDS Day theme, "Women, Girls,
HIV and AIDS".
Therese R. Rodriguez, APICHA's Executive Director said, "We
are proud to join the AIDS activist communities from throughout
the world in commemorating World AIDS Day and the impact AIDS
has on women and girls. We are especially concerned about the
impact among women in our community. A & PI women are a difficult
population to reach and to serve. Many of them are immigrants,
with a limited knowledge of English. They are unfamiliar and uncomfortable
seeking medical care and often wait until they are very ill before
going to see a doctor. Some are also victims of domestic violence.
Also women are discouraged from getting AIDS information because
of the enormous stigma around AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted
Infections in the A & PI communities. APICHA has a 15-year
reputation as a safe space for people who seek HIV information,
wish to get tested, or need to receive medical care, counseling,
and other support services. We hope that our partnership with
the faith communities will serve as an entry point for men and
women who might not feel uncomfortable in obtaining life saving
AIDS information and care."
Dr. Chin will present his research and findings on Asian immigrant
religious institutions' attitudes and beliefs about HIV. The findings
are from his research regarding 4 religious institutions: a Hindu
temple, an Islamic mosque, a Buddhist temple, and a Chinese Christian
church. APICHA has collaborated with NYAM on the research project.
The A&PI HIV/AIDS faith-based initiative, an all-volunteer
undertaking, was formed in 2003 when Venerable T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki
of the New York Buddhist Church, one of the members of the "Breaking
Silence" Coalition, got inspired to develop a sense of community
involvement and action in the fight against the AIDS epidemic
by mobilizing other spiritual groups in the A&PI communities.
Composed of 7 organizations, the Breaking Silence Coalition was
formed in 2000 with funds from the Federal and New York State
Office of Minority Health. The faith-based initiative is comprised
of individuals and leaders from Buddhist, Taoist, Protestant,
Catholic, Presbyterian, and Hindu doctrines. Venerable Nakagaki
serves as the faith community co-chair. APICHA's associate director
of client services, Shu-Hui Wu is the community agency co-chair.
The group meets quarterly at APICHA to communicate and plan for
The ability of faith-based leaders to mobilize community members
has proven to be both effective and powerful, by bringing attention
to the religious communities about the serious issues around HIV
and AIDS and by providing important information about linguistically
appropriate and culturally competent HIV/AIDS services.
Last May, the A & PI faith-based initiative's collaboration
with APICHA resulted in the joint participation in the 19th annual
AIDS Walk New York, with Rissho Kosei-Kai, a Buddhist youth group.
The effort helped to mobilize 100 young people and to raise $2,500.00
to fund client services at APICHA. In addition, some members of
the faith-based initiative also conducted HIV workshops in their
respective temples and churches.