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Countywide : New AIDS Awareness Project Targets Asians

A new AIDS awareness group that services the growing Orange County Asian population launched its first educational campaign on a local radio show Monday night.

“In the Asian culture, AIDS is still considered the white man’s disease,” said Daniel Tsang, one of the organizers, and host of the KUCI show. He said he became involved with the fight against AIDS after a Vietnamese friend and a Malaysian friend died of AIDS.

Tsang said talking about AIDS is particularly taboo for the Asian community because of the association with drugs and sex.

Tsang said that as demand on most AIDS organizations grew, they have had little time and few resources to devote to the Asian community, which represents only about 1% of the total county AIDS population of 3,611.

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“The incidence of Asians with AIDS is quite low in Orange County, but that doesn’t mean it is not going on or that there doesn’t need to be education,” Tsang said. “What this group is concerned with is that the number doesn’t get any bigger.”

From 1989 to 1994, the total reported cases of AIDS involving Asians was 49. There are about 249,000 Asians, a little more than 10%, in the county.

The Asian Pacific Islander Orange County AIDS Project hopes to fight ignorance of AIDS in the Asian community with educational programs that use a variety of Asian languages as well as pay particular attention to cultural needs. On Saturday at the lunar new year celebration in Little Saigon, Asian Pacific Islander group will be distributing condoms and information on safer sex.

The organization is also actively searching for volunteers, especially those with Asian language skills. AIDS training will be given to all who want to help. They will learn how to dispel common myths regarding the transmission of AIDS, how to teach safer sex and how to become a resource guide and support group for those with AIDS.

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Co-chairwoman Diep Tran said her parents thought she had AIDS or was going to get AIDS when they found out she was working with an AIDS group.

“They think only people with personal interest will get involved,” Tran said. “But why wait until a friend is HIV positive to get involved? Why not prevent someone from getting HIV?”

For more information on the effort and how to volunteer, call (714) 825-4327.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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AIDS in O.C. There have been 3,611 cases of AIDS reported in Orange County, with just 49 occurring among Asians. The ethnic breakdown of cases as of Dec. 31:Others: 1% Asians: 1% Blacks: 4% Latinos: 20% Whites: 74% Source: Orange County Health Care Agency


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