The Asian Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS Inc. (APICHA) is among the seven honorees who will receive the WE SPEAK (Women Empowered Support Protect Educate Advocate and Know) Awards from the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC).

APICHA’s chief executive officer Therese R. Rodriguez will receive the award on behalf of the organization.

The event will be held on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. at The Prince George Ballroom in New York City.

YWCHAC’s mission addresses HIV and the structural factors impacting the lives of young women of color 13-24 years old, by fostering their organizational and advocacy skills to make changes in their community.

Hosted by Demetria Lucas, relationship editor for Essence magazine, the first annual WE SPEAK Awards, Voices: Past, Present, Future, recognizes the advocacy efforts of individuals and organizations that push forward awareness, treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS among young women of color.

“APICHA has been the voice of A&PI women in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” says Claire Simon, co-founder of YWCHAC.

Simon points to APICHA’s long history of providing HIV and sexual health education to A&PI women.

In 1992, APICHA was the first HIV organization in the country to establish a program targeting A&PI women.

Today it provides support and education to A&PI women — especially recent immigrants, survivors of violence and sex workers — to help them make informed decisions about their well-being and sexual health.

Specifically, it provides one-on-one peer counseling, group workshops, as well as free HIV testing and affordable Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening.  

Over 550 women, 65% of whom are A&PI from 15 ethnic groups, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Asian Indian received HIV and other STD tests in 2011.

Rodriguez lauds YWCHAC for the recognition.

“HIV/AIDS has been and continues to be a taboo subject in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. APICHA’s Women’s Program has played a significant role in APICHA’s struggle to stop HIV/AIDS in our communities. YWCHAC’s awards serves as a reminder that there is much more that needs to get done.”

New York City remains one of the epicenters of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  

Although new HIV diagnoses among A&PIs are small when compared with other race/ethnicities in New York City, the numbers have been fluctuating in recent years.

Also, data showing delayed access to care is a point of concern.

Stigma, discrimination, limited English proficiency and lack of insurance are among the barriers to accessing HIV services.

New immigrants from countries with very little, or no prevention education, are also put at risk for HIV when they engage in unprotected sex and other risky behaviors upon arriving in New York City.  

The other honorees are Urooj Arshad, associate director, Racial/Ethnic Disparities and Social Justice Advocate for Youth; Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010; Community Resource Exchange; Tracie M. Gardner, director of NYS Policy & Coordinator of Women’s Initiative to Stop HIV/AIDS of New York, Legal Action Center; Ana Oliveria, president & CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation; and Tracy Reese, president, T.R. Designs, Inc.

For more information about this event, visit http://wespeakawards.com