Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the human immune system. If the virus is untreated, it can severely weaken the body’s defenses, leaving it vulnerable to many infections and cancers that would not normally develop in healthy individuals. There is currently no cure for HIV, but HIV can be controlled with medical care and treatment that make it possible for people with HIV to live long, healthy lives.

Learn more about Hawai’i HIV Programs.

How Its Spread: You can get HIV only through direct contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, or breast milk from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. HIV is most often transmitted during anal or vaginal sex, or by sharing drug injection equipment such as syringes or needles. HIV can also be transmitted from an HIV-positive person to their baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.

How It Is NOT Spread: through saliva, sweat, tears, air, water, close-mouth kissing, hugging, touching, sharing meals, pets, insects, toilets, sharing meals, or by donating blood.


U=U or “undetectable equals untransmittable” is a campaign aimed at educating the community that for those living with HIV, an undetectable viral load means that the HIV virus is also “untransmittable”. This means that a person with HIV who takes HIV medicine as prescribed and gets and stays virally suppressed will not transmit HIV to their sex partners.

Learn more.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a late stage of HIV infection. By the time a diagnosis of AIDS is made, HIV will already have seriously damaged the body’s immune system. Often, a person with an AIDS diagnosis will already have had a life-threatening infection or cancer.

Early HIV medical care and treatment prevent the development of AIDS.

Data & Statistics, Reporting in Hawai‘i

A total of 2,262 persons were identified as persons living with diagnosed in Hawaii at year-end 2020. Of those, 1,281 (56.6%) were identified as persons living with diagnosed HIV infection that was ever classified as stage 3 (AIDS).  

The prevalence rate (calculated per 100,000 population) of PLWDH in Hawaii (155.4) was much lower than the 2020 national rate (320.4). The rate for males was 276.1, over eight times that of females (33.0). Among persons of different age groups, the highest rate (293.6) was among persons aged 45-54 years and the lowest rate (1.3) was among those younger than 13 years. Among different race/ethnicity groups, the highest rate (396.8) was among Black/African American, followed by White (325.0). The lowest rates were found among Asian (73.1) and those of multiple races (90.9). By county of residence, the highest rate was in Hawaii County (211.8) and the lowest rate was in Kauai County (111.9).

Get more data on HIV/AIDS in Hawai‘i here.

Hawai’i to Zero (H20): The Plan to End HIV in Hawai’i

Across the world, communities are working to end the HIV epidemic. Hawai‘i to Zero (H20), The Plan to End HIV in Hawai‘i, is a bold plan that aims to end the HIV epidemic in Hawai‘i by 2030. This is an operational plan developed by the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Harm Reduction  Services Branch in collaboration with the Hawai‘i HIV Planning Group, affected community members, and other partners.

Access the plan here. 

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institutes of Health