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HIV/AIDS and African Americans


Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).

When we look at HIV/AIDS by race and ethnicity, we see that African Americans have

  • More illness. Even though blacks (including African Americans) account for about 13% of the US population, they account for about half (49%) of the people who get HIV and AIDS.
  • Shorter survival times. Blacks with AIDS often don’t live as long as people of other races and ethnic groups with AIDS. This is due to the barriers mentioned above.
  • More deaths. For African Americans and other blacks, HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death.

As the pie chart below shows, in 2005, about half (49%) of the people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were black (according to information from 33 states). Children are included in these data.

No. = 37,331

The reality is similar for children: HIV/AIDS affects black children the most. In 2005, 104 (63%) of the 166 children under the age of 13 diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 33 states were black. 

As the pie charts below show, blacks account for about half of all people living with HIV/AIDS within each sex category. According to information from 33 states, during 2005,

  • among men, 41% of men living with HIV/AIDS were black
  • among women, 64% of  women living with HIV/AIDS were black

Males No. = 341,524 and Females No. = 126,964

For black men, the most common ways of getting HIV are (in order)

  1. having unprotected sex with a man who has HIV
  2. sharing injection drug works (like needles or syringes) with someone who has HIV
  3. having unprotected sex with a woman who has HIV

For black women, the most common ways of getting HIV are (in order)

  1. having unprotected sex with a man who has HIV
  2. sharing injection drug works (like needles or syringes) with someone who has HIV

Blacks at higher risk for HIV are those

  • who are unaware of their partner's risk factors
  • with other STDs (which affect more blacks than any other racial or ethnic group)
  • who live in poverty (which is about one quarter [25%] of all blacks)




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