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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson


HIV Among African Americans

August 16, 2016

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Fast Facts
  • African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States.
  • Gay and bisexual men account for more than half of estimated new HIV diagnoses among African Americans.
  • The number of HIV diagnoses among African American women has declined, though it is still high compared to women of other races/ethnicities.

HIV Among African Americans

Blacks/African Americans1 have the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Compared with other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV, and those ever diagnosed with AIDS.

The Numbers

HIV and AIDS Diagnoses2

  • In 2014, 44% (19,540) of estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among African Americans, who comprise 12% of the US population.
  • Among all African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 73% (14,305) were men and 26% (5,128) were women.
  • Among all African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 57% (11,201) were gay or bisexual men.3 Of those gay and bisexual men, 39% (4,321) were young men aged 13 to 24.
  • From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among African American women fell 42%, though it is still high compared to women of other races/ethnicities. In 2014, an estimated 1,350 Hispanic/Latino women and 1,483 white women were diagnosed with HIV, compared to 5,128 African American women.
  • From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among African American gay and bisexual men increased 22%. But that number stabilized in recent years, increasing less than 1% since 2010.
  • From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among young African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13 to 24) increased 87%. But that trend has leveled off recently, with the number declining 2% since 2010.
  • In 2014, an estimated 48% (10,045) of those diagnosed with AIDS in the United States were African Americans. By the end of 2014, 42% (504,354) of those ever diagnosed with AIDS were African Americans.

Living With HIV and Deaths

  • At the end of 2012, an estimated 496,500 African Americans were living with HIV, representing 41% of all Americans living with the virus. Of African Americans living with HIV, around 14% do not know they are infected.
  • Of African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2013, 79% were linked to HIV medical care within 3 months, but only 51% were retained in HIV care (receiving continuous HIV medical care).4
  • Only 37% of African Americans living with HIV at the end of 2012 were prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART), the medicines used to treat HIV, and only 29% had achieved viral suppression.5
  • In 2013, 3,742 African Americans died of HIV or AIDS, accounting for 54% of total deaths attributed to the disease that year.

Estimated New HIV Diagnoses in the United States for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2014

Estimated New HIV Diagnoses in the United States for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2014

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2014. HIV Surveillance Report 2015;26. Subpopulations representing 2% or less of HIV diagnoses are not reflected in this chart. Abbreviation: MSM, men who have sex with men.

Prevention Challenges

HIV Among African Americans

A number of challenges contribute to the higher rates of HIV infection among African Americans. The greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity mean that African Americans face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.

African American communities continue to experience higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having another STD can significantly increase a person's chance of getting or transmitting HIV.

Lack of awareness of HIV status can affect HIV rates in communities. Diagnosis late in the course of HIV infection is common in African American communities, which results in missed opportunities to get early medical care and prevent transmission to others.

The poverty rate is higher among African Americans than other racial/ethnic groups. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty -- including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education -- directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV. These factors may explain why African Americans have worse outcomes on the HIV continuum of care, including lower rates of linkage to care, retention in care, being prescribed HIV treatment (ART), and viral suppression. Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV testing may also place many African Americans at higher risk and discourage testing.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC and its partners are pursuing a high-impact prevention approach to advance the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 and maximize the effectiveness of current HIV prevention methods. Some of CDC's activities include:

  • Support for health departments and community-based organizations to deliver effective prevention interventions for African Americans and other populations.
  • The Act Against AIDS campaigns, including
    • Doing It, a new national HIV testing and prevention campaign that encourages all adults to know their HIV status and protect themselves and their community by making HIV testing a part of their regular health routine;
    • Let's Stop HIV Together, which raises HIV awareness and fights stigma among all Americans and provides many stories about people living with HIV;
    • HIV Treatment Works, which shows how people living with HIV have overcome barriers to stay in care and provides resources on how to live well with HIV; and
    • Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT) to Act Against AIDS, a new 5-year partnership with organizations such as the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Urban League, and the Black Men's Xchange to raise awareness about testing, prevention, and retention in care among populations disproportionately affected by HIV, including African Americans.


  1. Referred to as African Americans in this fact sheet.
  2. HIV and AIDS diagnoses indicate when a person is diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS, not when the person was infected.
  3. The term men who have sex with men is used in CDC surveillance systems. It indicates a behavior that transmits HIV infection, not how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality. This fact sheet uses the term gay and bisexual men.
  4. In 27 states and the District of Columbia (the areas with complete lab reporting by December 2014).
  5. A person with a suppressed viral load has a very low level of the virus. That person can stay healthy and has a dramatically reduced risk of transmitting the virus to others.
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Related Stories's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
More HIV Statistics on the African-American Community

This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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