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HIV Among Asians

Between 2011 and 2015, the Asian populationa in the United States grew around 12%, four times as fast as the total U.S. population. During the same period, the number of Asians receiving an HIV diagnosis increased by 28%, driven primarily by an increase in HIV diagnoses among Asian gay and bisexual men.b Asians, who make up 6% of the population, continue to account for only a small percentage of new HIV diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas.c

The Numbers

HIV Infections

From 2010 to 2015, estimated annual HIV infections, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, remained stable among Asians in the United States.d

HIV and AIDS Diagnoses

  • Adult and adolescent Asians accounted for 2% (970) of the 40,324 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas in 2016.
  • Of Asians who received an HIV diagnosis in 2016, 84% (825) were men and 15% (145) were women.
  • Infections attributed to male-to-male sexual contact accounted for 90% (740) of all HIV diagnoses among Asian men in 2016. Among Asian women who received an HIV diagnosis, 94% (136) of infections were attributed to heterosexual contact.e
  • From 2011 to 2015, annual HIV diagnoses increased by 35% among Asian gay and bisexual men in the United States and 6 dependent areas.
  • In 2016, 336 Asians received a diagnosis of AIDS, representing 2% of the 18,409 AIDS diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas.

Living With HIV

  • Of the 15,800 Asians estimated to be living with HIV in the United States in 2015, 80% had received a diagnosis, a lower percentage than for any other race/ethnicity.
  • Of Asians living with HIV in 2014, 57% received HIV medical care, 46% were retained in HIV care, and 51% had achieved viral suppression.f A person living with HIV who takes HIV medicine as prescribed and gets and stays virally suppressed can stay healthy and has effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.

HIV Diagnoses Among Adult and Adolescent Asians in the
United States and 6 Dependent Areas by Transmission Category and Sex, 2016

Pie chart shows the number of HIV diagnoses in 2016 among adult and adolescent Asians in the United States and 6 dependent areas by transmission category. Males: Sex With Another Man= 740. Injection Drug Use=17. Sex With Another Man/IDU= 9. Sex With a Woman=56. Other=3. Females: Injection Drug Use=7 Sex With a Man= 136.  Other=2.

*Had both risk factors.
Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2016. HIV Surveillance Report 2017;28.

Prevention Challenges

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

  • Undiagnosed HIV. People living with undiagnosed HIV cannot obtain the care they need to stay healthy and may unknowingly transmit HIV to others.
  • Cultural factors. 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.
  • Limited research. Limited research about Asian health and HIV infection has resulted in few targeted prevention programs and behavioral interventions in this population.
  • Data limitations. The reported number of HIV cases among Asians may not reflect the true HIV diagnoses in this population because of race/ethnicity misidentification. This 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 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.

a A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
b The term male-to-male sexual contact is used in CDC surveillance systems. It indicates a behavior that transmits HIV infection, not how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality. This fact sheet uses the term gay and bisexual men.
c Dependent areas include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the US Virgin Islands.
d HIV infections (incidence) includes the number of people who get HIV (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) each year. Diagnoses includes the number of people receiving an HIV diagnosis each year (regardless of the year they were infected). In general, any difference between an incidence trend and a diagnosis trend can be attributed to HIV testing and diagnosis.
e Heterosexual contact with a person known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection.
f People are considered retained in care if they get two viral load or CD4 tests at least 3 months apart in a year. (CD4 cells are the cells in the body’s immune system that are destroyed by HIV.) Viral suppression is based on the most recent viral load test.


  1. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2016. HIV Surveillance Report 2017;28. Accessed March 23, 2018.
  2. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas—2015. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2016;22(2). Accessed March 23, 2018.
  3. CDC. Estimated HIV Incidence and Prevalence in the United States 2010–2015. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report. 2018;23. Accessed April 2, 2018.
  4. CDC. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes [slide set]. Accessed April 2, 2018.
  5. CDC. High-Impact HIV Prevention: CDC’s approach to reducing HIV infections in the United States. Accessed March 23, 2018.
  6. CDC. NCHHSTP Atlas Plus. Accessed March 23, 2018.
  7. CDC. Effective HIV surveillance among Asian Americans and Other Pacific Islanders. Accessed March 23, 2018.
  8. Hahm HC, Lee J, Rough K, Strathdee SA. Gender power control, sexual experiences, safer sex practices, and potential HIV risk behaviors among Asian-American women. AIDS Behav 2012;16(1):179-88.
  9. Russ LW, Meyer AC, Takahashi LM, et al. Examining barriers to care: provider and client perspectives on the stigmatization of HIV-positive Asian-Americans with or without viral hepatitis co-infection. AIDS Care 2012;24(10):1302-7.
  10. US Census Bureau. QuickFacts: United States. Accessed March 23, 2018.

Additional Resources