HIV Among Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders in the United States

Although Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) account for a very small percentage of new HIV diagnoses, HIV affects NHOPI in ways that are not always apparent because of their small population sizes. In 2016, NHOPI made up 0.2% of the US population.

The Numbers

HIV and AIDS Diagnoses1

In 2016:

  • Fifty-four NHOPI received an HIV diagnosis (45 men and 9 women), representing less than 1% of new HIV diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas.2
  • Gay and bisexual men3 accounted for 65% (35) of HIV diagnoses among NHOPI.
  • Twenty NHOPI received an AIDS diagnosis.

From 2011 to 2015, HIV diagnoses:

  • Increased 51% (from 55 to 83) among NHOPI overall.
  • Increased 50% (from 42 to 63) among NHOPI gay and bisexual men.
Diagnoses of HIV Infection among Adult and Adolescent Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, by Transmission Category, 2016
Diagnoses of HIV Infection among Adult and Adolescent Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, by Transmission Category, 2016 Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2016. HIV Surveillance Report 2017;28

Living With HIV

  • In 2015, an estimated 1,100 NHOPI were living with HIV in the United States. Of those, 82% had received a diagnosis.
  • Among NHOPI living with HIV in 2014, 60% received HIV medical care, 43% were retained in HIV care, and 50% had a suppressed viral load.4

Prevention Challenges

Some behaviors put everyone at risk for HIV, including NHOPI. These behaviors include having vaginal or anal sex without a condom or without medicines to prevent or treat HIV, sharing injection drug equipment with someone who has HIV, or lack of awareness of HIV status. People who do not know they have HIV cannot take advantage of HIV care and treatment and may unknowingly pass HIV to others. Factors that particularly affect NHOPI include:

  • Socioeconomic factors. Poverty, inadequate or no health care coverage, language barriers, and lower educational attainment among NHOPI may contribute to lack of awareness about HIV risk and higher-risk behaviors.
  • Cultural factors. NHOPI cultural customs, such as not talking about sex across generations, may stigmatize sexuality in general, and homosexuality specifically, as well as interfere with HIV risk-reduction strategies, such as condom use.
  • Limited research. Limited research about NHOPI health and HIV infection and small population numbers have resulted in a lack of targeted prevention programs and behavioral interventions for this population.
  • Data limitations. The low reported number of HIV cases among NHOPI may not reflect the true burden of HIV in this population because of race/ethnicity misidentification. This could lead to an 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.


  1. Estimated incidence and prevalence in the United States 2010-2015. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2018;23(1).
  2. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2016. HIV Surveillance Report 2017;28.
  3. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data -- United States and 6 dependent areas -- 2015. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2017;22(2).
  4. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes (slides). Accessed March 28, 2018.
  5. Adih WK, Campsmith M, Williams CL, Hardnett FP, Hughes D. Epidemiology of HIV among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, 2001-2008. J Int Assoc Physicians AIDS Care (Chic) 2011;10(3):150-9. PubMed abstract.
  6. Cook WK, Chung C, Ve'e T. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Disparities. San Francisco, CA: Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum; August 2010.
  7. DiStefano AS, Hui B, Barrera-Ng A, et al. Contextualization of HIV and HPV risk and prevention among Pacific Islander young adults in Southern California. Soc Sci Med 2012;75(4):699-708.
  8. Takahashi LM, Kim AJ, Sablan-Santos L, et al. HIV testing behavior among Pacific Islanders in Southern California: exploring the importance of race/ethnicity, knowledge, and domestic violence. AIDS Educ Prev 2011;23(1):54-64. PubMed abstract.

Additional Resources


  1. HIV and AIDS diagnoses indicate when a person is diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, not when the person was infected.
  2. Dependent areas include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the US Virgin Islands.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

[Note from TheBody: This article was created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who last updated it on May 7, 2018. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]