Racial Disparities and HIV

After reaching its height in the mid-1980s, the overall number of new HIV transmissions has dropped in the United States. Today, people with HIV who get treatment are healthier and live longer. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows from 2015 to 2019, new HIV transmissions dropped by 8 percent.1

While this is good news, not all groups have seen a decline in HIV transmissions or better health results. The disease continues to affect Black and Latinx communities more than other racial and ethnic groups.1

HIV health disparities by race and ethnicity

Black and Latinx people with HIV face many health disparities. A disparity is a difference between groups of people, in this case people of color and white people. Differences exist between these groups in:2-4

  • Number of people living with HIV
  • Number of new transmissions
  • Undiagnosed HIV
  • Treatment barriers

People living with HIV

In 2019, Black people made up 13 percent of the US population but 40 percent of those living with HIV. Latinx people made up 18.5 percent of the population, but 25 percent of people with HIV. These rates are 7 and 3 times higher than white people with HIV.2-4

New HIV transmissions

The rate of new transmissions is 8 times higher for Black people compared to white people and 4 times higher for Latinx people. That rate is also 11 times higher for Black women and girls and 4 times higher for Latina women and girls than it is for white women and girls.2-4

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up only 2 percent of the US population. But the CDC reports that Black gay and bisexual men make up 26 percent of all new HIV transmissions. Latino gay and bisexual men make up 23 percent.2-4

Undiagnosed HIV

More than 16 percent of Latinx people and 13 percent of Black people live with undiagnosed HIV. These numbers rose between 2015 and 2019, according to the CDC.2-4

Treatment barriers

Black people with HIV have lower viral suppression rates than other races and ethnicities. This group is less likely to get or be able to continue HIV care.2-4

Addressing HIV health disparities

Many factors influence health disparities in HIV, including bias, stigma, and lack of access to healthcare. The federal government, community support groups, and other partners are working to address these inequities through long-term strategies.1

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy lays out a plan for equity in HIV diagnosis and treatment. The plan includes:1

  • Engaging the communities most impacted by HIV, such as Black and Latinx communities and gay and bisexual men
  • Improving HIV healthcare workers' diversity and cultural competency
  • Reducing HIV-related stigma and bigotry and protecting people with HIV from different forms of bias
  • Focusing resources on communities with the greatest need, such as people of color and gay and bisexual men
  • Including less-represented groups in the next generation of HIV care providers

This plan also has a target of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by the year 2030.

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