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AIDS. 1988 Dec;2(6):473-5.

The epidemiology of AIDS in Asian and Pacific Islander populations in San Francisco.

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AIDS Office, Department of Public Health, City and County of San Francisco, California 94103.


To evaluate the epidemiology of HIV infection in Asian and Pacific Islander populations in San Francisco, we compared cases of AIDS reported in Asians and Pacific Islanders with those reported in other racial and ethnic groups. The incidence of AIDS in Asians and Pacific Islanders was significantly lower than in Whites, Blacks, Latinos and American Indians and Alaska natives. AIDS cases among Asians and Pacific Islanders have increased 177% since 1985 compared with 54% in other racial and ethnic groups, with the greatest increase in homosexual and bisexual men and transfusion recipients. Among Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups, the incidence of AIDS was 168 cases per 100,000 in Polynesians, 141 per 100,000 in Japanese, 92 per 100,000 in 100 Filipinos, 72 per 100,000 in southeast Asians, and 21 per 100,000 in Chinese. We conclude that AIDS cases are disproportionately increasing in Asians and Pacific Islanders in San Francisco.


In Asia and in people of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry in the United States, AIDS is a rare disease. San Francisco, with the highest incidence of AIDS in the United States, also has the highest percentage (21%) of Asians and Pacific Islanders. To understand the potential for AIDS in this select population, trends over time and the demographics of reported AIDS cases among the select population in San Francisco were analyzed. Records were reviewed of AIDS cases reported to the San Francisco Department of Health, which had a substantiated 98% report rate. As of March 31,1988, 83 (1.8%) of the 4689 cases and 42 (1.5%) of the 2831 deaths reported were among the select population. The incidence of AIDS among the select population (58.5/100,000) was significantly lower than among whites (1108.8/100,000), blacks (368.9/100,000), and latinos (421.0/100,000). Among the select population, however, AIDS increased more rapidly since 1985 than among the whites, blacks, or latinos. Of the 83 cases reported, 69 were homosexual or bisexual men without intravenous drug use, 3 homosexual or bisexual men with histories of intravenous drug use, 6 were transfusion recipients, 3 were heterosexual intravenous drug users, 1 was a heterosexual contact of a person at risk for AIDS, and 1 was a hemophiliac. Comparison of transmission categories of the select population with those of the other racial and ethnic groups showed a significantly greater (P 0.001) number of transfusion recipients and a significantly lower (P 0.02) number of homosexual and bisexual intravenous drug users. The greatest increase in cases among the select population was in homosexual and bisexual men without histories of intravenous drug use, which was greater than the increase among nonAsian or Pacific Islander homosexual and bisexual men (P 0.10). These findings support the theory that HIV entered the select population communities later than it did nonAsian or Pacific Islander communities.

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