HIV/AIDS is well into its fourth decade of existence in America. In the 1980s and 90s, being diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was likened to a death sentence. Thanks to advances in medicine, millions can lead normal lives with an HIV diagnosis.
However, like other illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, HIV continues to ravage the Black community. The infection continues to impact Black and African-American people in the U.S. disproportionately, particularly Black women and men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men.
The good news is that new HIV diagnoses among Black people in general are on the decline. However, according to studies like this one, impoverished urban areas that are predominantly Black tend to have higher infection rates.
Since Friday, Dec. 1, marks World AIDS Day, here are some startling facts you should know about HIV/AIDS, particularly how it impacts the Black community.
African Americans accounted for over 40% of all HIV infection cases in the U.S.
This was despite comprising about 13% of the population in 2019. Moreover, Black adults and adolescents had a rate of new HIV diagnoses that was eight times that of Whites and twice as much as Latinos, according to KFF.
Over 90% of all new HIV infections among Black women were through heterosexual contact.
Plus, the rate of HIV infection among Black women remains the highest compared to women from other racial and ethnic backgrounds, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black women also account for 54% of new HIV infections.
Black Men account for three-quarters of new HIV infections among all Black people.
According to the CDC, 82% of those cases were from male-to-male sexual contact in 2019. Furthermore, 3 out of 4 Black/African American gay and bisexual men received their HIV diagnoses between the ages of 13 and 34.
HIV is a Top Ten Leading Cause of Death for Black Men and Women, 20-44
For non-Hispanic Black women in that age range, HIV is the eighth-leading cause of death, just ahead of kidney disease and sepsis. It is the seventh-leading cause of death for non-Hispanic Black men in that age range after cancer and diabetes.
Fewer Black People with HIV are Receiving the Treatment and Care Necessary to Live Longer
It’s proven that people with HIV who start antiretroviral treatment and achieve viral suppression in the early stages of infection can realize better, long-term health outcomes. Yet, statistics show that Black and African-American people are delaying treatment and having worse outcomes as a result.
The CDC says that only 65% of Black people in the U.S. were virally suppressed in the first six months of diagnosis.
Also, Black people in the U.S. use PrEP or Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention the least compared to Whites and Latinos.
For Help and Access to Resources
For information on HIV care and treatment, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/resources.html) or the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination (hivelimination.uchicago.edu/services).