The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was introduced readily into Asia and has quickly spread between Asian states through both parenteral and sexual modes of transmission. Only 1 year after Thailand's epidemic wave among intravenous drug users (IDUs) in 1988, the virus spread to the adjacent Myanmar and Malaysia, and another year later IDUs were infected in parts of India and China bordering Myanmar. Several methods can be used to quantify the genetic diversity, divergence, or variation within or between subtypes, genotypes, or isolates. Consensus sequences, representing the most common nucleotide in the genome, are often generated for comparison. 8 subtypes A through F, H, and O have been described for HIV-1 based on the genetic similarities and differences in the env gene or viral envelope. Subtype A and D have been found primarily in central and western Africa. Subtype B is predominant in Europe, the Western hemisphere, Japan, and Australia. Subtype C has been found mostly in southern Africa, the Central African Republic, and India. Subtype E was first identified in Thailand and recently in the Central African Republic. Subtype F has been found in Romania and is a rare variant in Brazil. Isolates from Gabon and the Russian Federation were designated subtype H. An "outlier" subtype O containing 2 human and 2 chimpanzee isolates has been identified in Cameroon and Gabon. Sequencing of the relatively conserved gag gene of geographically diverse HIV-1 isolates yielded a classification with 7 subtypes A-D and F-H. Other topics discussed include genome characterization, comparison with foreign isolates, segregation by mode of transmission, and biologic properties of HIV-1 variants in Thailand; regional diversity of HIV-1 subtypes and substantial spread of HIV-2 in India; as well as HIV transmission and infections in Japan, Australia, Cambodia, China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, and in states created out of the former Soviet Union.