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HIV Infection Among Asians in the United States and Dependent Areas

image of two Asian young  menAccording to the most recent United States census data, the Asian population in the United States grew 43%, or more than four times as fast as the total US population between 2000 and 2010. Despite this significant growth, the number of Asians receiving a diagnosis of HIV has remained stable in recent years. Overall, Asians continue to account for only 2% of new HIV infections in the United States and dependent areas.a

The Numbers

New HIV Infectionsb

  • Asians accounted for 2% (950) of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections in the United States in 2010.
  • The rate of estimated new HIV infections among Asians decreased from 10.4 per 100,000 in 2007 to 8.4 in 2010.

HIV and AIDS Diagnosesc and Deaths

  • Of the estimated 982 adult and adolescent Asians diagnosed with HIV infection in 2011, 84% (821) were men and 16% (153) were women.
  • Eighty-six percent (705) of the estimated 821 HIV diagnoses among Asian men in 2011 were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact. Ninety-two percent (141) of the estimated 153 HIV diagnoses among Asian women were attributed to heterosexual contact.d
  • At the end of 2010, Asians accounted for 1% (9,746) of the estimated 891,857 people living with diagnosed HIV infection.
  • In 2011, an estimated 492 Asians were diagnosed with AIDS (representing 2% of the estimated 32,561 AIDS diagnoses), a number that has remained relatively stable since 2008.
  • By the end of 2010, an estimated 3,212 Asians ever diagnosed with AIDS had died.

Estimated Diagnoses of HIV Infection among Adult and Adolescent Asians, by Transmission Category and Gender, United States and 6 US Dependent Areas, 2011

Shown here are two pie charts. The first pie chart depicts estimated diagnoses of HIV infection among 821 adult and adolescent Asian men, by transmission category. The distribution of transmission is as follows: Male-to-male sexual contact = 86%; Heterosexual contact = 8%; injection drug users = 3%; Male-to-male sexual contact/IDU = 3%; Other = 1%. The second pie chart depicts estimated diagnoses of HIV infection among 153 adult and adolescent Asian women, by transmission category. The distribution of transmission is as follows: Heterosexual contact = 92%; injection drug users = 7%; Other = 1%.

Why Are Asians Affected by HIV?

There are some behaviors that put everyone at risk for HIV, including Asians. These include having vaginal or anal sex without a condom or without being on medicines that prevent HIV, or sharing injection drug equipment with someone who has HIV. Other factors that particularly affect Asians include:

  • Low testing rates and late testing. The fact that more than one-third of Asians develop AIDS within a relatively short time after being diagnosed indicates that Asians may not be receiving adequate care and treatment in time to prevent them from developing AIDS. Among other reasons, this may be caused by poverty, cultural or immigration issues, and language barriers.
  • Cultural factors may affect the risk of HIV infection. Some Asians may avoid seeking testing, counseling, or treatment because of language barriers or fear of discrimination, the stigma of homosexuality, immigration issues, or fear of bringing shame to their families. Traditional Asian cultures may emphasize male-dominated gender roles that empower men and deprive women of sexual negotiating power. This factor may affect the rate of heterosexual HIV transmission to Asian women.
  • Limited research about Asian health and HIV infection has resulted in few targeted prevention programs and behavioral interventions in this population.
  • The low number of HIV cases among Asians may not reflect the true burden of HIV in this population because of race/ethnicity misidentification that could lead to the underestimation of HIV infection in this population.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC and its partners are pursuing a High-Impact Prevention approach to advance the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, maximize the effectiveness of current HIV prevention methods and improve surveillance among Asians. Funding state, territorial, and local health departments is CDC’s largest investment in HIV prevention.

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a Dependent areas: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the US Virgin Islands.
b New HIV infections refer to HIV incidence, or the number of people who are newly infected with HIV, whether they know it or not.
c HIV and AIDS diagnoses refer to the estimated number of people diagnosed with HIV infection regardless of stage of disease at diagnosis and the estimated number of people diagnosed with AIDS, respectively, during a given time period. The terms do not indicate when they were infected.
d Heterosexual contact with a person known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection.


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