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Asian American & Pacific Islander Women's Health

Asian American and Pacific Islanders represent one of the fastest-growing and most diverse populations in the United States. There are 28 Asian and 19 Pacific Islander groups-representing a vast array of languages and cultures. Some are 4th and 5th generation Asian Americans, while 75% are recent immigrants and refugees. Native Hawaiians and American Samoans are not immigrants, but indigenous peoples who are striving to preserve their culture and retain their relationship to the land.

Asian-American women have the highest life expectancy (85.8 years) of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S. Yet there are wide disparities between Samoan (74.9 years), Native Hawaiian (77.2 years), Filipino (81.5 years), Japanese (84.5), and Chinese women (86.1 years).

Here are some of the health issues of particular concern to Asian and Pacific Islander women:

  • Access to health care can be limited due to cultural and language differences, as well as economic and other barriers. Breast and cervical cancer screening rates are much lower than the national average.
  • Tuberculosis is 13-times more common among Asian populations, especially those from Cambodia, China, Laos, Korea, India, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Hepatitis B is 25 to 75 times more common than the U.S. average among Samoans and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China.
  • Cervical cancer incidence rates among Vietnamese women are nearly 5-times those of white women.
  • Breast cancer. Native Hawaiians have the highest mortality rate for any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. for breast cancer: 37.2 per 100,000. Chinese and Japanese American women have higher rates than in China and Japan.
  • Suicide. Asian American women have the highest suicide rates among women ages 15 to 24 and those over age 65.
  • Osteoporosis. Asian American women are at particular risk for osteoporosis due to their relatively lower bone mass and density, smaller frames, and lower intake of calcium compared to other population groups.

For more information.....

You can find out more about Asian American & Pacific Islander women's health by contacting the following organizations:

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, (510) 272-9536, http://www.aapcho.org

National Asian Women's Health Organization, (415) 989-9747, http://www.nawho.org

Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, (415) 954-9988, http://www.apiahf.org