African Americans More Likely to be Diagnosed with HIV Than Other Groups


Although HIV diagnoses have dropped across every population in the United States, African Americans remain disproportionately affected by HIV.

African Americans remain disproportionately affected by HIV compared with other groups, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.1

The analysis, which draws on data from surveys such as the 2010 United States Census and the 2016 HIV Surveillance Report by the CDC, found disparities between ethnic groups regarding HIV diagnosis. Although HIV diagnoses have dropped across every population in the United States, African Americans are still much more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than other populations. In 2016, African Americans represented 44% of newly diagnosed infections in the United States.

African Americans were also 8.4 times more likely than whites to be diagnosed with HIV in both men and women in 2016, whereas in 2005 they were 7.9 times more likely. In 2005, there were 9969 African American men diagnosed with HIV, which increased by 26% in 2016.

Of the total population of women living with HIV at the end of 2014, 60% were African American. From 2005 to 2014, new HIV diagnoses among African American women fell 42%, but were still significantly higher compared with other races and ethnicities.

Among African American women diagnosed with HIV, the number of those who contracted HIV through heterosexual contact increased by 75% from 2392 in 2005 to 4189 in 2016. Most HIV diagnoses among African American women were classified as heterosexual contact (92%), followed by intravenous drug usage (7%).

Additionally, HIV diagnoses among heterosexual African American men increased by 76% in the same time period.

According to the analysis, most HIV cases among African American males and adolescents in 2016 are attributed to men who have sex with men (79%), heterosexual contact (15%), intravenous drug usage (4%), and men who have sex with men in combination with intravenous drug usage (2%).

The CDC has implemented strategic goals through 2020 to combat HIV/AIDS. These goals are to:

1. Reduce new infections.

2. Increase access to care and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV.

3. Reduce HIV-related health disparities and health inequities.

4. Achieve a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic.

Overall, the authors concluded that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community continues to be of crisis proportion.

“Specifically, we believe the unavailability of access to HIV health care and testing in combination with cultural HIV/AIDS stigma has increased the rates of delayed diagnosis and treatment of the population,” the authors wrote.1

The authors recommended a 5-fold plan for health care practitioners and community advocates to address the disparities. According to the authors, the plan includes working to eliminate prejudices and unconscious biases when treating patients and employing new technology and techniques to help prevent or eradicate HIV/AIDS.

They also recommended addressing secondary factors, such as incarceration rates, poverty, sexually-transmitted diseases, and other circumstances that increase the chances of contracting HIV.

“While higher rates of poverty and prevalence of negative socio-economic determinants in African Americans are important underlying factors, we believe that a concerted, re-dedicated effort — as seen with other national health emergencies such as the opioid crisis – can create meaningful change in the decade to come,” Cato T. Laurencin, lead author, said in a press release.2


1. Laurencin CT, Murdock CJ, Laurencin L, et al. HIV/AIDs and the African-American community 2018: a decade call to action. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Disparities. 2018.

2. African-Americans still disproportionately affected by HIV [news release]. Springer’s website. Accessed June 7, 2018.

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