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Women of all races and ethnicities can get HIV

photo collage of African-American women

HIV can touch the lives of all American women, no matter what their background. However, research shows that women of color are more likely to be infected with HIV.

Some risks of HIV infection may be higher in some communities.

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Women of color have high rates of some STIs. Having an STI can make women more likely to be infected with HIV.
  • Risky sexual behavior. Unprotected sex with multiple partners, with a partner who has other sex partners, or with people at high risk of HIV infection can be common in some communities. In some communities men may not live with their regular sex partner due to jail, immigration issues, or other social forces. This can result in female partners being at greater risk of HIV.
  • Drug use. All drug users may be more likely to have unprotected sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Women who use intravenous (IV) drugs may share needles or have sex with others who use IV drugs. Sharing needles to inject IV drugs is the second most common way of getting HIV.
  • Lack of basic necessities. Women who cannot afford the basics in life such as quality health care and housing are indirectly at higher risk of HIV. Having to care for others such as children or family may place additional strain on women's resources.

African-American women and Latinas have the highest rates of HIV. HIV diagnoses in black women are nearly 15 times higher than in white women. HIV diagnoses in Hispanic or Latina women are four times higher than in white women.

National strategy to fight HIV/AIDS

One of the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is to reduce the number of HIV infections. The strategy also aims to improve care for African‑Americans and Latinos living with HIV/AIDS, and to help more of the people in these groups to get better treatment. It also plans to support studies that will help us learn more about HIV/AIDS in Asian‑Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Alaska Natives.

The latest estimates from the CDC show almost 300,000 women living with HIV in the U.S. A study of 40 U.S. states and territories shows that 66 percent of the women who were diagnosed with HIV in 2009 were African-American, 17 percent were white, and 14 percent were Hispanic or Latina.

It's important that every woman protect herself from getting HIV, no matter what her race or ethnicity. Remember: You can take charge of some things in your life that can prevent HIV infection!

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Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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