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HIV Among African Americans

February 4, 2016

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

Living With HIV and Deaths

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:


  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.

Additional Resources


  1. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2014. HIV Surveillance Report 2015;26. Accessed January 14, 2016.
  2. Seth P, Walker T, Hollis N, et al. HIV Testing and Service Delivery Among Blacks or African Americans -- 61 Health Department Jurisdictions, United States, 2013. MMWR 2015;64:87-90. Accessed January 14, 2016.
  3. Siddiqi A, Hu X, Hall HI. Mortality Among Blacks or African Americans with HIV Infection -- United States, 2008-2012. MMWR 2015;64:81-86. Accessed January 14, 2016.
  4. CDC. 2013 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance. Accessed January 14, 2016.
  5. CDC. Monitoring Selected National HIV Prevention and Care Objectives by Using HIV Surveillance Data -- United States and 6 Dependent Areas -- 2013. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2015;20(No. 2). Accessed January 14, 2016.
  6. US Census Bureau. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014. Accessed January 14, 2016.
  7. US Census Bureau. Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2014. Accessed January 14, 2016.
  8. CDC. High-Impact HIV Prevention: CDC's Approach to Reducing HIV Infections in the United States. Accessed January 14, 2016.

Fact Sheets

HIV Among African-American Gay and Bisexual Men

Expanded HIV Testing and African Americans

HIV and AIDS Among African-American Youth

New HIV Infections in the United States

All Fact Sheets

Other Resources

Web Sites

General Resources

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