Preparing Health Centers to Protect Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI)

from Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Human Trafficking/Exploitation (HT/E) During Public Health Emergencies and Natural Disasters

May 2, 2024

AANHPI Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the remarkable role of the AANHPI community in our nation’s history! We want to safeguard the potential of our AANHPI communities to continue to participate and make long-lasting and important contributions to the United States. To that end, let us prepare our health centers to protect our vulnerable AANHPI patients from IPV and HT/E during natural disasters and emergencies.  

Health centers should be prepared because these facts are clear:

  1. Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking/Exploitation are prevalent in AANHPI communities;
  2. Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking/Exploitation increase during public health emergencies and natural disasters; and,
  3. Limited English Proficiency, housing, income, insurance status, and education disparities make AANHPI subgroups disproportionately vulnerable to emergencies.


Consider that during the 2023 Lahaina, Maui wildfires, Native Hawaiians, undocumented Southeast Asian populations, and migratory Pacific Islander populations were the most disproportionately impacted and displaced; that there is an increasing number of climate refugees from Asian and Pacific Islander countries migrating to the continental U.S.; and that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, IPV rates increased between 8-30% across the U.S. and HT rates increased up to 40% globally.

This educational brief  from the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations and Health Partners on IPV + Exploitation outlines steps your health center can take to prepare to protect your AANHPI patients during a public health emergency or natural disaster. It also provides tools for social needs screening at health centers, resources on universal education about IPV/HT/E, and tips and templates to help establish connections with local  programs and organizations for mutual aid. Please read and share with your networks to help protect our AANHPI communities from IPV/HT/E during emergencies and disasters!

Finally, a report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), Essential Health Care Services Addressing Intimate Partner Violence during Public Health Emergencies which reiterates the importance that HRSA and all U.S. health care systems classify Universal IPV screening and inquiry, Universal IPV education, and Safety planning as essential health care services related to IPV. 

There are also resources available from the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, a culturally specific national resource center on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence in Asian/Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities.  

Thank you for the work you do! 

Anna Marjavi, Health Partners on IPV + Exploitation

Cara Skillingstead, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations

Kimberly Chang, MD, MPH, Asian Health Services