As of June 1997 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 4,370 AIDS cases among Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIs) in the U.S. It also reported that the rate of new AIDS cases among APIs men who have sex with men (MSM) per 100,000 population increased by 55% from 1989 (4.0) to 1995 (6.2). Focusing on the relatively low numbers of APIs with AIDS in the U.S. has resulted in complacency among API communities and government officials, despite reports of increased seroprevalence and exponential growth in diagnosed AIDS cases. However, because of the geographic and social isolation of many Asian and Pacific Islander American communities, the effect of HIV is magnified once it takes hold. The low numbers of reported AIDS cases among API and the perception of them as the "model minority" has reinforced their denial of AIDS as a threat. Data collection and surveillance tools must be modified to accurately capture the range of HIV-related and social issues that affect Asian/Pacific Islander communities in the United States. Notwithstanding sample limitations, ethnic-specific data are needed to identify HIV trends in each of the Asian Pacific Islander American communities, which can inform prevention and intervention programs.