Fact Sheet: Women, Minorities and AIDS
December 1, 2000
Women are one of the fastest growing U.S. populations to be affected by HIV. In contrast to 1985, when women represented only 7% of all AIDS cases, today nearly one quarter of AIDS cases occur in women of all ages, cultures and sexual orientations.
Tragically, many women do not realize they are at risk for HIV and so do not seek testing until symptoms appear. As a consequence, these women do not receive the benefits of drug treatment early in their disease. This often causes them to fall ill earlier in the course of their illness and to die sooner than others who have the benefit of early drug intervention.
Why are so many women unaware of their risk? Unfortunately, too many women do not suspect that their male sex partner or partners are engaging in high risk behaviors, such as having sex with other men or other female sex partners and/or injecting drugs. In addition, social and cultural factors cause women in some settings to feel powerless to insist on the use of a condom.
Women who have Sex with WomenTransmission of HIV from female to female is rare. The majority of HIV-positive women who have had sex only with women also report another risk category, primarily injection drug use.
Mother to Infant TransmissionAn HIV-positive mother can transmit HIV to her child during pregnancy, labor, birth or breast feeding.
Minorities and HIVRacial and ethnic minorities in the United States have been disproportionately affected by HIV, especially among African Americans and Latinos.
MSM of Color and HIVMen of color who have sex with men (MSM) (including non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, American Indian/Alaska Natives and Asian Pacific Islanders) account for an increasingly greater number of AIDS cases. Possible contributing factors include economic issues, such as high rates of poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to health care, as well as cultural factors, such as the fear of being considered homosexual.
Because HIV is stigmatized as a homosexual disease in communities of color, MSM may be reluctant to identify themselves as gay or bisexual, and therefore fail to seek HIV testing or treatment. Because these men may not believe they are at high risk for HIV, they may unintentionally put their female partners and future children at risk.
Women of ColorAfrican American and Latino women represent less than 25% of all U.S. women, yet they account for 77% of all AIDS cases in women.
This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!.