African Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV in the United States

In 2015, African Americans accounted for 45% of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12% of the US population.

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According to new numbers released by the CDC, Blacks/African Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV, and those ever diagnosed with AIDS, compared to other races/ethnicities.

Gay and bisexual men account for a majority of new HIV diagnoses among African Americans.

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 and viral suppression. Stigma, fear, discrimination, and homophobia may also place many African Americans at higher risk for HIV.

In all communities, lack of awareness of HIV status contributes to HIV risk. People who do not know they have HIV cannot take advantage of HIV care and treatment and may unknowingly pass HIV to others.

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.

Some 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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its partners are pursuing a high-impact prevention approach to advance the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020 and maximize the effectiveness of current HIV prevention methods.

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