At the beginning of October, UCLA announced the launch of a $3 million federally-funded study focused on the reproductive health of Asian immigrant women. Throughout the duration of this five-year study, researchers hope to gather data pertaining to the reproductive health of immigrant and ethnic groups. Asian immigrant women are being studied in particular because they are often underrepresented or excluded from existing data regarding reproductive health. News writer Manisha Wanniappa interviewed Dr. May Sudhinaraset, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences, who is also the project leader of this study, to discuss the aims of this project.
Pacific Ties (PT): What is the objective of this study?
May Sudhinaraset (MS): The goal of the study is to provide the most comprehensive sexual and reproductive health data among the most diverse sample of Asian immigrant women to date. We are interested in examining how different immigration statuses and also ethnicities may differ in regards to sexual and reproductive health.
PT: Why is this study important?
MS: For too long, Asian immigrant women have been invisible in broader policy discussions. Some of that can be attributed to lack of data and a lack of focus on hearing the diverse experiences and stories of Asian immigrant women. Barriers to care are deeply rooted in structural inequities that have prevented Asian immigrant women from accessing dignified and respectful sexual and reproductive healthcare.
PT: Why is it important to study the experiences of Asian women in particular?
MS: Asians are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States. Asian women in particular contend with multiple forms of violence in their everyday lives, heightened and exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research that disaggregates data among and across Asian women is important to shedding light on the diverse needs and experiences of our communities.
PT: How will this study impact the AAPI community? How will it strengthen our healthcare system’s ability to serve AAPI individuals?
MS: This study will provide critical data at a time when reproductive rights and justice are threatened in the U.S. This study will bring together a community of immigrant and reproductive justice organizations to ensure reproductive rights and safety for Asian immigrant women and their communities.