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HIV Among African Americans

July 8, 2015

Fast Facts
  • African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV.
  • The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is 8 times that of whites based on population size.
  • Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.

HIV Among African Americans

Blacks/African Americans* 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 infections, those living with HIV, and those ever diagnosed with AIDS.

The Numbers

New HIV Infections1

Estimates of New HIV Infections in the United States for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2010

Estimates of New HIV Infections in the United States for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2010

Source: CDC. Estimated HIV incidence among adults and adolescents in the United States, 2007-2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(4). Subpopulations representing 2% or less are not reflected in this chart. Abbreviations: MSM, men who have sex with men; IDU, injection drug user.

HIV and AIDS Diagnoses5 and Deaths

Prevention Challenges

HIV Among African Americans

African Americans face a number of challenges that contribute to the higher rates of HIV infection. 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 means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.

African American communities continue to experience higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having an STI can significantly increase the chance of getting or transmitting HIV.

Lack of awareness of HIV status can affect HIV rates in communities. Almost 73,600 HIV-infected people in the African American community in 2011 were unaware of their HIV status. Diagnosis late in the course of HIV infection is common, 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, and viral suppression. New data from 2010 indicate that 75% of HIV-infected African Americans aged 13 or older are linked to care, 48% are retained in care, 46% are prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and only 35% are virally suppressed.

Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV testing can also place too many African Americans at higher risk. Many at risk for HIV fear discrimination and rejection more than infection and may choose not to seek 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 and maximize the effectiveness of current HIV prevention methods. Activities include:

* Referred to as African Americans in this fact sheet.

** Referred to as gay and bisexual men in this fact sheet.

Additional Resources


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Estimated HIV incidence among adults and adolescents in the United States, 2007-2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(4). Accessed March 3, 2015.
  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 March 3, 2015.
  3. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and dependent areas, 2013. HIV Surveillance Report 2014;25. Accessed March 3, 2015.
  4. 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 March 3, 2015.
  5. U.S. Census Bureau. Profile of general population and housing characteristics: 2010. Accessed March 3, 2015.
  6. CDC. 2013 Sexually transmitted diseases surveillance. Accessed March 3, 2015.
  7. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data -- United States and 6 U.S. dependent areas -- 2012. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2014;19(No.3). Published November 2014. Accessed March 3, 2015.
  8. U.S. Census Bureau. Income and Poverty in the United States, 2013 Accessed March 3, 2015.
  9. U.S. Census Bureau. Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2015.
  10. CDC. High-Impact HIV Prevention: CDC's Approach to Reducing HIV Infections in the United States. Accessed March 3, 2015.

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


  1. New HIV infections refer to HIV incidence, or the number of people who are newly infected with HIV within a given period of time, whether they are aware of their infection or not.
  2. The term men who have sex with men (MSM) is used in CDC surveillance systems. It indicates a behavior that transmits HIV infection, not how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality.
  3. Heterosexual contact with a person known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection.
  4. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
  5. HIV and AIDS diagnoses indicate when a person is diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS, but do not indicate when the person was infected.

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