Inequality in AIDS

< Final Analysis > 
April 23, 2018

Numbers By Group

The African American Community is mostly affected in three groups: women, young people and heterosexual and gay men.

A graph depicting the inequality of African American people in HIV diagnoses in the United States. Graph from


Among all women, Black women account for the largest share of new HIV diagnoses (about 4,500, or 60% in 2016), and the rate of new diagnoses among Black women (26.2) is 15 times the rate among white women and nearly 5 times the rate among Latinas. Black women also accounted for the largest share of women living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2015(Kaiser 2018). Women continue to be a large statistic and constitute one of the most alarming trends in the epidemic in recent years. This trend continues to be particularly visible in the South, where African- American women constituted 72% of all reported cases( 2016, Black women represented about one quarter (26%) of new HIV diagnoses among all Blacks – a higher share than Latinas and white women (who represented 12% and 14% of new diagnoses among their respective groups)(Kaiser 2018). These percentages have decreased over time but African American women continue to be impacted heavily by HIV/AIDS.

Young People

In 2016, Black teens and young adults, ages 13-24, represented more than half (54%) of new HIV diagnoses in that age group. According to a national survey of young adults ages 18-30, about three times as many Blacks (46%) as whites (15%) say HIV today is a “very serious” concern for people they know. Almost twice as many Black young adults (30%) say they know someone who is living with, or has died of, HIV/AIDS, compared to whites (16%)(Kaiser 2018). Young black people are also more susceptible to lives of crime, incarceration, and drugs. Young African Americans are also not educated or mature enough to know about unprotected sex and being careful when sharing anything that can transmit HIV/AIDS. These factors all lead to an increase in the contraction of HIV/AIDS in young black people.

Gay and Bisexual Men

The population with the most disproportionate HIV burden is African American gay and bisexual men, who have HIV prevalence rates that are twice those of white counterparts. There are a number of reasons for this disparity. Evidence suggests that African American heterosexuals and gays  less frequently tested for HIV and at later stages of their HIV infection, and are also less likely to have been previously aware that they were HIV positive, than other racial groups(  In addition, Black gay and bisexual men are less likely to identify as gay or disclose their sexual behavior to others. Research suggests that the homophobia and related stigma that many men feel for being both African American and gay carries into their experiences with the healthcare system, and can interfere with accessing HIV testing and other medical services (Malebranche, Peterson, Fullilove and Stackhouse, 2004). This stigma of the “down low” brother greatly influences the “coming out” of African American men and how they go about getting tested and many do not want to or are scared to. In my personal observations in Midtown when working as a valet I have seen awareness programs go to mostly bi or gay clubs and bars and give free testing and condoms to help with this epidemic. This is because gay and bi men are less likely to go out and do it themselves. A study in 20 major U.S. cities found that about 36% of Black gay and bisexual men were infected with HIV, compared to 22% of gay and bisexual men overall, and awareness of infection among Black gay and bisexual men was lower compared with gay and bisexual men in the study overall(Kaiser 2018).

Other notable facts from Kaiser state:

  • Among gay and bisexual men, Blacks have been disproportionately affected by HIV and Blacks account for 38% of HIV diagnoses attributable to male-to-male sexual contact.
  • In 2016, male-to-male sexual contact accounted for more than half (58%) of new HIV diagnoses among Blacks overall and a majority (79%) of new diagnoses among Black men.
  • Young Black gay and bisexual men are particularly affected, with those ages 13-24 representing over half (54%) of new HIV diagnoses among all gay and bisexual men in that age group.
  • In addition, newly diagnosed Black gay and bisexual men are younger than their white counterparts, with those ages 13-24 accounting for 36% of new HIV diagnoses among Black gay and bisexual men in 2016, compared to 15% among whites.






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