HIV/AIDS is a global pandemic and many countries have put in place measures to ensure its citizens have access to treatment thus lead a healthy life. America has been receiving a large number of immigrants from Asia and the Pacific, and the migration is raising concerns in the country because the regions have a high prevalence of HIV. New York City has recorded a significant percentage of the immigrants. The growing population in New York has raised concerns in the country because the immigrants fail or delay to seek medical services and this increases their chances of contracting opportunistic infections. Reports indicate that children born to HIV-infected immigrants are diagnosed with AIDS-defining conditions as compared to those born in the United States (Kang et al., 2003). Technology and modern medicine have made it possible for an HIV-infected woman to give birth to an HIV-negative child. However, the immigrants fail to access medical services, and this increases the possibility of their unborn children to contract the virus.
Factors that contribute to the Asian and Pacific Islanders to not visit health centers include language barrier making it impossible for them to communicate. Most immigrants are not proficient in English, and this creates a communication barrier. The individuals are unaware of the treatment resources that are available, and this contributes to them delaying in seeking treatment at the early stages of the disease (Kang et al., 2003). Cultural beliefs and practices prevent the population from using modern medicine. Also, some communities believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease for promiscuous behavior. Such a perception scares people from wanting to know their status for fear of stigmatization once they test positive for the virus. Illegal immigrants live with the worry of being deported to their countries and therefore, they do not visit health centers because they dread being detected by immigration authorities. The situation is the same for immigrants who violated their status.

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The prevalence of HIV in Asia and the Pacific indicates a continued increase in HIV rates among the immigrants living in America. Reports stated that by the end of the year 2000, East Asia, and South and South East Asia recorded approximately 640,000 and 5.8 million individuals living with HIV/Aids respectively (Kang et al., 2003). In June the same year, there were 783 reported cases of Aids among the Asian and Pacific Islanders residing in the region and who were not born in America.

A study, which focused on undocumented non-citizens from Asia, was conducted to identify the barriers and facilitators to access of health care. Information was gathered from semi-structured interviews, and the participants had to give their consent before the onset of the meeting. The interaction took a maximum of three hours and incorporated various languages such as Korea, Hindi, and Mandarin (Kang et al., 2003). The objective of the study was centered on four questions, which would help understand the factors that influence or affect the access of care among the immigrants. The results from the study would assist in determining the cultural attitudes towards the disease and matters concerning transmission and infection risks, how Asian and Pacific Islanders cultural beliefs, knowledge and understanding of the illness influence the infected immigrants from seeking medical attention. Also, the outcome would shed more light on the quality of care given by medical providers and other social services by analyzing the experiences of the infected immigrants.

Results from the study identified personal and communal fears as a significant factor to immigrants delaying to access medical services. Stigmatization that arises from the perception that the disease is associated with promiscuous behavior prevents people from seeking treatment. Many immigrants move to America in search of greener pastures and once they test positive, their dreams and hopes for a better tomorrow are crushed. The population fears deportation because medical care is expensive in their country of origin. Undocumented citizens face challenges in America regarding HIV-related care, and this is attributed to factors such as lack of finances, language, and service navigation barriers (Kang et al., 2003). Asian beliefs have led most of the infected individuals to consider themselves socially unacceptable because of the perception of the illness among the community. Also, the fear of transmitting the disease to others leads to most of the people living in isolation. From the results, there is a need to put in place measures to address HIV-related matters among the undocumented population, and this will help reduce the prevalence of the disease in America.

  • Kang, E., Rapkin, B. D., Spronger, C. & Kim H. J. (2003, Apr). The “Demon Plague” and access to care among Asian undocumented immigrants living with HIV disease in New York City. Journal of Immigrant Health, 5, 2, p. 49-58