February 7 marks
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Though contracting this disease is no longer a death sentence — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that someone on the current crop of medications can expect to live to age 71, versus 79 for someone who doesn’t have HIV/AIDS — the still heartbreaking reality is that Black women are more likely than any other women in the United States to contract it. Here, we look at the numbers behind the epidemic.
Who is contracting it?
The total number of Black people in the United States who were diagnosed with HIV in 2017 is 16,690. That’s slightly down from 17,528 in 2016.
Black people (not including those who identify as Latinx) made up 13 percent of the United States population in 2017, but we represented 43 percent of the HIV diagnoses that year. This is clearly disproportionate to our population in this country. The CDC attributes this high infection rate to a few things. One, Black people tend to have sex with other Black people, so the disease is more readily transmitted in a community that already has many people infected with HIV/AIDS. Stats also show that some parts of our community have higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including chlamydia and gonorrhea, which increases our risk of both getting and spreading HIV.
Black women made up 60 percent of all the women diagnosed with HIV in 2017. The CDC says these higher rates of infection in our community can be attributed, at least in part, to stigma, discrimination and the homophobia that impacts Black men who have sex with men. This group had the most HIV diagnoses in 2017 (9,807 people).
Who is living with it?
The estimated number of Black people living with diagnosed HIV/AIDS in the United States at the end of 2016 was 413,587.
For Black women living with diagnosed HIV/AIDS in 2016 that number was 139,845. We represent 59 percent of all the women who knew they are living with the disease as of that year. But that number is likely higher, as the CDC estimates that about 16 percent of all people with HIV do not know they are infected.
The number of Black people age 50 and older living with diagnosed HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016 was 184,977.
Of the total number of Black people living with diagnosed HIV, 58 percent (239,648) live in the South.
There were 28,171 Black people with diagnosed HIV/AIDS living in Florida, the state with the highest population of patients, at the end of 2016.
There were 11 Black people with diagnosed HIV/AIDS in Wyoming, the state with the least.
How do our rates compare to other women?
There were 4,395 Black women diagnosed with HIV in 2017, down from 4,560 in 2016. There were 45 Native American women, 132 Asian American and Pacific Islander women, 1,117 Latinas and 1,474 white women diagnosed with the disease that same year.
The overall HIV diagnosis rate for Black women (24.9 per 100,000 people) is almost 15 times that of white women (1.7). The HIV diagnosis rate for Black women (24.9) is nearly 5 times that of Latinas (5).
The number of Black women diagnosed with HIV fell 20 percent between 2011 and 2015.
How are we getting it?
In 2017, there were 4,007 Black women who contracted HIV via sex with men.
That year 356 Black women contracted HIV via intravenous drug use.
The remaining 32 women contracted it via blood transfusions, exposure in utero or an unreported factor.
How long are we living?*
There were 6,795 Black people with diagnosed HIV/AIDS who died in 2016.
Black women accounted for 2,237 of those who died in 2016, representing 59 percent of all female HIV/AIDS patients who died that year.
Of the total number of Black people with the disease who died in 2016, 4,578 of them were age 50 and older.