FLUSHING, Queens — The New York City Department of Health released a first-of-its-kind report Friday on the health of Asians and Pacific Islanders in New York City.
A similar report was released in 2017 on Latinos, and health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said this most recent report is to better account for health gaps among the AAPI community and to highlight how understudied and misrepresented this group, which represents more than one million New York City residents, is.
“With this report, we will raise awareness about the health inequities of Asians and Pacific Islanders, prevent disease and increase community wellbeing,” Dr. Chokshi said.
Details of the landmark report were released at the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, where there is a heavy AAPI population.
Asians and Pacific Islanders are often categorized as one group, but they represent more than 48 countries and speak hundreds of languages and dialects.
The report said it highlights differences in demographic characteristics, health behaviors, and health status within different API ancestry groups.
The prevalence of high blood pressure ranges from 15% among those of Korean ancestry to 31% among those of Indian ancestry. Sugary drink consumption rates vary from 7% in East Asian adults to 28% in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults. A greater proportion of Indian adults report needing medical care but not getting it compared with Chinese adults.
As a single group, the report found that the AAPI community has a lower prevalence of obesity, higher rates of consumption of fruits and vegetables and a higher likelihood of getting the flu vaccination compared to the overall New York City population.
When it comes to colon cancer screening, HIV testing and preventive dental cleaning, rates are below the city’s average and nearly 25% of AAPI men smoke cigarettes.
The report is a starting point for action to improve and understand these health conditions and behaviors and to work with policymakers and community organizations to find strategies and services “that better address health priorities for AAPI New Yorkers.”
Community partners, 21 in total, contributed to the report including NYU Langone Health. Dr. Stella Yi is affiliated with the hospital.
“Poor quality data on race ethnicity is systemic racism,” Dr. Yi said.
The report also found that as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, violent crimes and xenophobia against the AAPI community heightened the racial inequities and trauma the population faces.
The city also released a similar report in 2019 on older adults. The commissioner said that they are always looking at different groups within all five boroughs whether it be by race, ethnicity or age to call for a spotlight on health inequities or gaps that need to be addressed.