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Decrease in HIV/AIDS deaths in women

The CDC identified the first case of AIDS in the United States in 1981.1 By 1994, AIDS was the leading cause of death for all Americans (men and women) ages 25 to 44.2 Today 25% of people living with HIV in the United States are women.3HIV/AIDS remains among the 10 leading causes of death for black women ages 15 to 594 and Hispanic/Latina women ages 30 to 495. Although HIV/AIDS affects more African-American women and Latinas compared with other women, new HIV infections among black women have decreased since 2008.6

As the HIV/AIDS epidemic spread in the 1980s, we needed better ways to estimate the number of women with HIV/AIDS. AIDS reporting to the CDC began in 1981.7 In 1988, CDC researchers began to analyze routine blood tests from newborn infants to test for HIV in their mothers in what was to become the first nationwide, population-based survey of HIV prevalence.8 In 1993, NIH established the Women's Interagency HIV Study – the largest and longest-running study to investigate the impact of HIV on women in the United States.

Fewer women are dying from AIDS due to the introduction of highly active antiretroviral drugs. Treatment with these types of drugs can suppresses viral replication (stop the virus from multiplying) for decades, allowing patients to enjoy longer and healthier lives and making them less infectious to others.9

In 2003, CDC revised its recommendations to make HIV testing a routine part of all medical care. It also recommended universal prenatal testing, with rapid tests during labor and after delivery if the mother was not screened prenatally. By 2006, the CDC recommended screening of all adults ages 13 to 64, with repeat screening at least annually for those at high risk.10 The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires most insurers to cover HIV screening at no cost for everyone 15 to 65 and those at other ages who may be at increased risk.


  1., A Timeline of AIDS
  2., A Timeline of AIDS
  3. CDC, HIV Among Women Fact Sheet
  4. CDC, Deaths, Percent of Total Deaths, and Death Rates for the 15 Leading Causes of Death in 5-year Age Groups, by Race and Sex: United States, 1999-2010
  5. CDC, Deaths, Percent of Total Deaths, and Death Rates for the 15 Leading Causes of Death in 5-year Age Groups, by Hispanic Origin, Race for Non-Hispanic Population and Sex: United States, 1999-2010
  6. CDC, HIV Among African Americans Fact Sheet
  7. CDC, HIV Surveillance Supported by the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
  8. Gwinn, M. et al. (1991). Prevalence of HIV Infection in Childbearing Women in the United States: Surveillance Using Newborn Blood SamplesJAMA; 265(13): 1704-1708.
  9. CDC, HIV Surveillance --- United States, 1981--2008
  10. CDC, Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings