Anti-AAPI bias in community-damaging health care

Anti-AAPI bias in community-damaging health care

I am a senior and a naturalized American citizen who has lived, worked, and paid taxes in this country for 59 years. I am proud to be an American. I am literate, educated and speak English with no accent. I was surprised at the assumption of the medical personnel that because I am of Chinese origin, I had traveled outside of the United States to Wuhan. I was also offended, as that specific question was not asked of others in line. The treatment I received makes me question whether it is such stereotypes and prejudices that lead to other disparities in the diagnoses and treatments of Asian Americans. These, however, are not the only areas where Asian Americans have experienced discrimination. It is happening in health care as well. A few months back, it was time for my annual wellness appointment. I patiently stood in line outside the primary care clinic, respecting social distancing requirements and waiting for my turn. I wore my mask and abided by the requirements to wear the masks provided by the clinic at the entrance. The clinic assistant then took my temperature, asked if I had been sick, had a fever, cough, chills or diarrhea. She then surprised me by asking me whether I had been to Wuhan, China. In a recent survey by Consumers for Quality Care (CQC), more than half (56%) agree that COVID-19 has shown racial disparities in our system. Although information on the disparity of health care for other minorities is more readily available, the same cannot be said for Asian Americans.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community was one of the first to feel the economic effects of COVID-19. When news coverage of the virus broke, coupled with the constant mentions of its Chinese origins, so did the backlash against Asian Americans of all descent. Here in Las Vegas, the first businesses to be affected economically were the Chinatown restaurants. Even prior to the state shutdown and mandated restrictions, Asian restaurants were estimated to have experienced a 40-60% decline in business. Wednesday, May 5, 2021 | 2 a.m.

In the past few months, hate crimes and attacks on the AAPI community have dominated the local and national news. Here in Las Vegas, Asian groups and organizations, and many of our elected leaders, have participated in events calling for an end to these racially driven attacks. And we applaud the Senate’s swift passing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. By Ana Wood

Source Ana Wood is longtime resident of Las Vegas. She is involved in and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations.

Just as our society must unite to understand and accept cultural differences, so must our medical professionals and systems. As we strive to overcome racial inequalities, we need to ensure the same is true of our medical system so that we all have better screening options, diagnoses and treatment opportunities. We need the help of our policymakers as well and ask that they prioritize policies that eliminate racial disparities and all forms of discrimination in health care. Historically, Asian Americans have frequently been considered healthier than other minority groups and the general population as a whole — often leaving them overlooked. This is statistically true in some cases. For example, the overall rate of cancer in Asian Americans is lower than in non-Hispanic white people. However, for certain cancers, such as stomach and liver, Asian Americans are at an increased risk and are more likely to die. Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern amongst Asian Americans, especially in some subsets: Filipino, Pacific Islanders, Japanese and South Asian groups. In addition to cancer and diabetes, heart disease, stroke, COPD, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, smoking, tuberculosis and liver disease are prevalent amongst Asian Americans.

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