HIV (ie, HIV-1) epidemics in Asia show great diversity, both in severity and timing. But epidemics in Asia are far from over and several countries including China, Indonesia, and Vietnam have growing epidemics. Several factors affect the rate and magnitude of growth of HIV prevalence, but two of the most important are the size of the sex worker population and the frequency with which commercial sex occurs. In view of the present state of knowledge, even countries with low prevalence of infection might still have epidemics affecting a small percentage of the population. Once HIV infection has become established, growing needs for care and treatment are unavoidable and even the so-called prevention-successful countries of Thailand and Cambodia are seeing burgeoning care needs. The manifestations of HIV disease in the region are discussed with the aim of identifying key issues in medical management and care of HIV/AIDS. In particular, issues relevant to developing appropriate highly active antiretroviral treatment programmes in the region are discussed. Although access to antiretroviral therapy is increasing globally, making it work effectively while simultaneously expanding prevention programmes to stem the flow of new infections remains a real challenge in Asia. Genuine political interest and commitment are essential foundations for success, demanding advocacy at all levels to drive policy, mobilise sufficient resources, and take effective action.