African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States. Gay and bisexual men account for more than half of estimated new HIV diagnoses among African Americans. The number of HIV diagnoses among African American women has declined, though it is still high compared to women of other races/ethnicities.
February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). The theme for NBHAAD, I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS, emphasizes the role that everyone can play in HIV prevention.
Coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on February 7 to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities.
Compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, blacks/African Americans* have a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS. While blacks represent approximately 12% of the US population, they account for more new HIV diagnoses (44%) and people living with HIV (41%) than any other racial/ethnic group. Among all blacks, black gay and bisexual men account for the majority of new infections. Young black gay and bisexual men are especially affected.
HIV and AIDS Diagnoses b
- In 2014, 44% (19,540) of estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among African Americans, who comprise 12% of the US population.
- Among all African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 73% (14,305) were men and 26% (5,128) were women.
- Among all African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 57% (11,201) were gay or bisexual men.c Of those gay and bisexual men, 39% (4,321) were young men aged 13 to 24.
- From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among African American women fell 42%, though it is still high compared to women of other races/ethnicities. In 2014, an estimated 1,350 Hispanic/Latino women and 1,483 white women were diagnosed with HIV, compared to 5,128 African American women.
- From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among African American gay and bisexual men increased 22%. But that number stabilized in recent years, increasing less than 1% since 2010.
- From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among young African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13 to 24) increased 87%. But that trend has leveled off recently, with the number declining 2% since 2010.
- In 2014, an estimated 48% (10,045) of those diagnosed with AIDS in the United States were African Americans. By the end of 2014, 42% (504,354) of those ever diagnosed with AIDS were African Americans.
Living With HIV and Deaths
- At the end of 2012, an estimated 496,500 African Americans were living with HIV, representing 41% of all Americans living with the virus. Of African Americans living with HIV, around 14% do not know they are infected.
- Of African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2013, 79% were linked to HIV medical care within 3 months, but only 51% were retained in HIV care (receiving continuous HIV medical care).d
- Only 37% of African Americans living with HIV at the end of 2012 were prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART), the medicines used to treat HIV, and only 29% had achieved viral suppression.e
- In 2013, 3,742 African Americans died of HIV or AIDS, accounting for 54% of total deaths attributed to the disease that year.
A number of challenges contribute to the higher rates of HIV infection among African Americans. The greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity mean that African Americans face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.
African American communities continue to experience higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having another STD can significantly increase a person’s chance of getting or transmitting HIV.
Lack of awareness of HIV status can affect HIV rates in communities. Diagnosis late in the course of HIV infection is common in African American communities, which results in missed opportunities to get early medical care and prevent transmission to others.
The poverty rate is higher among African Americans than other racial/ethnic groups. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty—including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education—directly and indirectly, increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV. These factors may explain why African Americans have worse outcomes on the HIV continuum of care, including lower rates of linkage to care, retention in care, being prescribed HIV treatment (ART), and viral suppression. Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia and negative perceptions about HIV testing may also place many African Americans at higher risk and discourage testing.
Nevertheless, we have seen encouraging signs of progress. From 2005 to 2014, new HIV diagnoses fell sharply (42%) among black women. Though new diagnoses among black gay and bisexual men rose significantly (22%) over the last decade, they have increased only slightly since 2010, suggesting that focused HIV prevention efforts are having an effect and need to continue.
What is CDC Doing?
The CDC and its partners are working hard to end the HIV epidemic among blacks. Among its many activities, CDC funds health departments and community organizations that serve black communities. These funds help provide HIV testing, prevention services, and linkage to care for persons who are HIV positive. CDC’s prevention campaigns through the Act Against AIDS initiative raise HIV awareness among all Americans and focus on reducing HIV risk among the most affected populations. CDC recently launched a new partnership, Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT) to Act Against AIDS, with organizations representing the populations hardest hit by HIV, including black communities. But more work needs to be done to ensure that everyone knows how to protect themselves and their partners against HIV. You can help.
What Can You Do?
Start talking. Learn the facts about HIV, and share this lifesaving information with your family, friends, and community. Let’s Stop HIV Together, part of Act Against AIDS has many resources for raising awareness about HIV.
Start Doing It – getting tested for HIV. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help keep you and your partner healthy.
To find a testing site near you, visit Get Tested, text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). You can also use a home testing kit available in drugstores or online.
Learn more about HIV testing.
Protect yourself and your partner. Today, more tools than ever are available to prevent HIV. You can
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex
- Choose less risky sexual behaviors
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Never share needles
- Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking medicine daily to prevent HIV infection, if you are at very high risk for HIV
- Talk to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days through sex, sharing needles and works, or a sexual assault
Get treated. If you are HIV-positive, start medical care and begin taking medicines to treat HIV, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), as soon as possible. These medicines reduce the amount of HIV (viral load) in the blood and elsewhere in the body to very low levels, called viral suppression. They can even reduce the viral load to such a low level that it is undetectable. Being virally suppressed or having an undetectable viral load is good for an HIV-positive person’s overall health. It also greatly reduces the chance of transmitting the virus to a partner who does not have HIV. Learn how you can live well with HIV.
Learn more about how to protect yourself and your partners and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s new HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).
- National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day website
- CDC fact sheets:
- Act Against AIDS campaigns:
- Social media: