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At AdventHealth, our heart is to help heal the communities we serve, including our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau population estimate, AAPIs make up 5.7% of the United States population — the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S., expected to increase to over 40 million individuals by 2060.
AAPI individuals, families and communities represent diverse and varied ethnicities, languages, and cultures. For generations, these communities have shaped American society, making important contributions in art, culture, science, technology, and a range of professions, including medicine and healthcare. Their shared accomplishments and legacies are inspirational, significant, and a celebrated part of the American experience.
As we celebrate the many contributions of AAPI communities to our society, we also recognize that AAPI communities encounter challenges, including barriers to healthcare. According to Dr. Alric Simmonds, Chief Health Equity Officer at AdventHealth, despite rapid growth, they remain one of the most understudied groups, with relatively few studies of their health status and service use compared to other ethnic groups.
And although this culturally and economically diverse community comes from over 40 distinct ethnic subgroups, health studies often show the community as a whole, minimizing the difference of experience within subgroups. AAPI subgroups in the U.S. report many factors which may threaten their health, including less than average use of preventive services and chronic disease care; lower rates of health insurance; greater communication/cultural difficulties with providers; and less overall satisfaction with the quality of their care.
At AdventHealth, we understand that health is not just a personal responsibility, it is one we want to share with you. “We are looking at our own data to better understand how patients’ physical, social, and cultural differences influence their healthcare opportunities and outcomes,” says Dr. Simmonds. It is our goal to develop best practices for the attainment of health equity within our system and communities, including providing relevant health information for you.
Learn more below about common health concerns that affect AAPIs and preventive measures for keeping you and your family healthy.
58% of people living with chronic hepatitis B (HBV) in the U.S. are AAPI. HBV is a serious infection that affects the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. The best way to prevent HBV is to be fully vaccinated. The World Health Organization recommends vaccinating babies within 24 hours of birth, followed by two to three additional doses within six months. Infant immunization for HBV tends to be lower in AAPI communities, leaving greater risk of contracting viral hepatitis in the future.
Stomach and Liver Cancers
AAPIs have the highest rates of stomach and liver cancer. Studies often link the high prevalence to geographic origin, genetic, and/or lifestyle related risk factors. Lower your risk for stomach and liver cancer with early detection through Hepatitis B and C screenings through your primary provider. The CDC also recommends reducing alcohol consumption and increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. 87% of all reported TB cases occurred in racial and ethnic minorities, with 36% being Asian American or Pacific Islander,” Dr. Vincent Hsu, AdventHealth’s executive director of infection prevention.
Delayed treatment can lead to worsening symptoms. It is recommended to call your doctor if you believe you may have been exposed to someone with tuberculosis. If tested positive for TB, your doctor will provide the best treatment.
AAPIs account for only 2% of new HIV diagnoses per year. Yet, one in four AAPIs living with HIV is unaware of their diagnosis and not receiving adequate care and treatment. Because of this, more than one-third of AAPIs develop AIDS soon after diagnosis. HIV-related stigma is the primary barrier to HIV testing and access to services across all communities.
“At AdventHealth, we’re committed to creating an environment where all patients, including AAPIs living with or at risk from HIV feel accepted, safe and respected so they can get the care they need,” says Dr. Hsu. If you are looking for recommendations to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading HIV, the CDC shares tools and strategies for HIV prevention. If you have tested positive for HIV, your primary care provider may recommend medication to help control symptoms.
We’re Here to Help You Feel Whole
The number one way to prevent any of these common health issues is to spread awareness of the importance of annual doctor visits and preventive care.
“Though there can be many barriers in health care for minority groups, we’re committed to helping you access the care you need to feel whole,” encourages Dr. Simmonds. We offer professional interpreter services for those who need and encourage you to bring a trusted family member or friend to help you during your medical visits. Take the first step to whole health by finding a doctor who can extend compassionate care to you and your family.