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June, 2007

Highlights in Minority Health
May, 2005
May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

During the observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the cultural traditions, ancestry, native languages, and unique experiences represented among more than 47 ethnic groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands (speaking over 100 languages) who live in the United States. We also recognize millions of AAPIs whose love of family, hard work, and community has helped unite us as a people and sustain us as a Nation.  AAPIs represent one of the fastest-growing and most diverse populations in the United States.
According to 2003 President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), Report to the President and the Nation, AAPIs encompass many populations that make critically important contributions to American life.  AAPI communities often are stereotyped as a “model minority” that generally enjoys superior health status.  In reality, AAPI individuals and families experience genuine health disparities in cancer screening, diabetes, and infectious diseases, among others. It is important to recognize that AAPI subpopulations have distinct languages, cultures, histories, and politico-economic environments.
Asian Americans
Asian Americans represent both extremes of socioeconomic and health indices: while 11.8% of Asian Americans lived in poverty in 2003, Asian  American women have the highest life expectancy of any other group.  While Asian Americans have the highest proportion of college graduates of any race or ethnic group, they suffer disproportionately from certain types of cancer, infectious diseases, and other chronic diseases.  Factors contributing to poor health outcomes for Asian Americans include language and cultural barriers, stigma associated with certain conditions, and lack of health insurance.  Asian American elders are more likely live in poverty and experience language and cultural barriers that make them less likely to receive social services and medical care.
Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPIs)
The U.S.-associated Pacific Island Jurisdictions comprise three flag territories:  American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and three Feely Associated States:  the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau. They are U.S. territories made up of hundreds of small islands and atolls spread across about 5 million square miles of ocean—nearly half the size of the United States—with a total population of 469,356 (1999 and 2000 estimates).  Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPIs) generally experience poorer health than the American population as a whole; major causes of premature death among NHOPIs are obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
  red arrow While the rate (per 100,000 population) of acute hepatitis B (HBV) among AAPIs has been decreasing, the reported rate in 2001 was more than twice as high among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (3.0) as among white Americans (1.3).
  red arrow The tuberculosis rate (cases per 100,000) in 2004 was 8.4 times higher in the U.S. Pacific Islands (41.4) than in the mainland U.S. (4.9).
  red arrow In 2002, the AIDS rate (cases per 100,000) among AAPIs was 4.0.  During 2003, 497 new AIDS cases were reported among AAPIs, an increase of 9.9 percent over 2002 and of 34.7 percent over the 1999 level.
  red arrow The incidence rates for liver and stomach cancer were substantially higher among AAPIs than among other races in 1996-2000.

Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, US, 1996-2000


African American

American Indian and Alaska Native

Asian American & Pacific Islander

Hispanic/ Latino


Stomach Cancer






Liver Cancer






Source: National Cancer Institute,

  red arrow According to the American Cancer Society, in 2000 Asian American women (ages 18+) were least likely to have had a Pap test in the preceding three years (68.2%) compared with other racial/ethnic women (White: 83.9%, African American: 85.5%, Hispanic/Latino: 77.9%, American Indian/Alaska Native: 78.4%).
  red arrow The infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) for Native Hawaiians in 2002 was 9.6, higher than the rate for all AAPIs combined (4.8), and for all populations (7.0).
  red arrow The 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers for Native Hawaiians is 47%, compared with 57% for whites and 55% for all races.
  red arrow In 200-2002, Native Hawaiians in Hawaii were 2.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic white residents of Hawaii (Hawaii overall, 5.6%; Native Hawaiian, 7.9%; whites, 3.4%).
  Asian American Populations
  Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Populations
  President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), 2003 Report to the President and the Nation
  White House Proclamation: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month 2005



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