HIV and Asians

Between 2010 and 2016 the Asian populationa in the United States grew around 17%, four times as fast as the total US population.b During the same period, in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the number of Asians receiving an HIV diagnosis increased by 42%, driven primarily by an increase in HIV diagnoses among Asian gay and bisexual men.c Asians, who make up 6% of the population, accounted for about 2% of HIV diagnoses in 2017 in the United States and dependent areas.d

The Numbers

HIV Diagnosese

Infographic text reads of the 38,739 people in the United States and dependent areas who received who received an HIV diagnosis in 2017: 822 were Asian men, 120 were Asian women, about 9 in 10 Asian men who received an HIV diagnosis were gay or bisexual. Footnote in infographic reads states infections attributed to male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use (men who reported both risk factors.

Pie charts show the number of HIV diagnoses in 2017 among adult and adolescent Asians in the United States and 6 dependent areas by transmission category. Males: = 822. Male-to-Male Sexual Contact= 91 percent, Heterosexual Contact=5 percent, Male-to-male sexual contact/injection drug use=2 percent, Injection drug use=2 percent, Other equal to or less than1 percent. Women=120. Heterosexual Contact=94 percent, Injection Drug Use=5 percent, Other=1 percent.

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2017 pdf icon[PDF – 6 MB]. HIV Surveillance Report 2018;29.

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From 2010 to 2016, annual HIV diagnoses in the 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 52% among Asian gay and bisexual men.f

Living With HIV and Deaths

Infographic text states Asians with HIV in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. At the end of 2016, an estimated 16,600 Asians had HIV. 8 in 10 knew they had the virus. For every 100 Asians with HIV in 2015: 58 percent= received some HIV care. 46 percent were retained in care. 52 percent were virally suppressed. Text next to pill bottle reads a person with HIV who takes HIV medicine as prescribed and gets and stays virally suppressed or undetectable can stay healthy and has effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners. The footnote states had 2 viral load or CD4 tests at least 3 months apart in a year. The plus sign footnote states based on most recent viral load test.

During 2016, there were 95 deaths among Asians with diagnosed HIV in the US and dependent areas. These deaths may be due to any cause.

Prevention Challenges

There are some behaviors that put everyone at risk for HIV. These include having anal or vaginal sex without protection (like a condom or 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 with undiagnosed HIV cannot obtain the care they need to stay healthy and may unknowingly transmit HIV to others. A lower percentage of Asians with HIV have received a diagnosis, compared to other races/ethnicities.
  • 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 means there are few targeted prevention programs and behavioral interventions for 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 interventions and strategies 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 US Census Bureau’s population estimates include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
c  Male-to-male sexual contact is the term 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.
d American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the US Virgin Islands.
e Diagnoses includes the number of people receiving an HIV diagnosis each year (regardless of the year they were infected).
f Includes infections attributed to male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use (men who reported both risk factors).

Additional Resources
  1. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2017 pdf icon[PDF – 6 MB]. HIV Surveillance Report 2018;29. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  2. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas—2016 pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2016;23(4). Accessed March 8, 2019.
  3. CDC. Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the United States 2010–2016 pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB]. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report. 2018;24. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  4. CDC. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB] [slide set]. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  5. CDC. High-Impact HIV prevention: CDC’s approach to reducing HIV infections in the United States pdf icon[PDF – 400 KB]. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  6. CDC. NCHHSTP atlas plus. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  7. CDC. Effective HIV surveillance among Asian Americans and other Pacific Islanders pdf icon[PDF – 319 KB]. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  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 womenexternal icon. 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-infectionexternal icon. AIDS Care 2012;24(10):1302-7.
  10. US Census Bureau. QuickFacts: United Statesexternal icon. Accessed March 8, 2019.
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