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Women and HIV

HIV Among Women

Fast Facts

  • Around 1 in 4 people living with HIV in the United States are women.
  • Most new HIV diagnoses in women are attributed to heterosexual sex.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among women declined 40%.

 photo of a group of diverse womenBlack/African Americana and Hispanic/Latinab women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other races/ethnicities. Of the total estimated number of womenc living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2013, 61% (137,504) were African American, 17% (39,177) were white, and 17% (38,664) were Hispanics/Latinas.

The Numbers

HIV and AIDS Diagnosesd

  • Women made up 19% (8,328) of the estimated 44,073 new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2014. Of these, 87% (7,242) were attributed to heterosexual sex,e and 13% (1,045) were attributed to injection drug use.
  • Among all women diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 62% (5,128) were African American, 18% (1,483) were white, and 16% (1,350) were Hispanic/Latina.
  • New HIV diagnoses declined 40% among women from 2005 to 2014. They declined 42% among African American women, 35% among Latina women, and 30% among white women.
  • Women accounted for 25% (5,168) of the estimated 20,792 AIDS diagnoses among adults and adolescents in 2014 and represent 20% (246,372) of the estimated 1,210,835 cumulative AIDS diagnoses in the United States from the beginning of the epidemic through the end of 2014.

Estimates of New HIV Diagnoses in the United States for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2014
 Bar chart shows the estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2014 for the most-affected subpopulations. Black men who have sex with men = 11,201. White men who have sex with men = 9,008. Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men = 7,552. Black heterosexual women = 4,654. Black heterosexual men = 2,108. Hispanic/Latina heterosexual women = 1,159. White heterosexual women = 1,115.

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2014. HIV Surveillance Report 2015;26. Subpopulations representing 2% or less of HIV diagnoses are not reflected in this chart. Abbreviation: MSM = men who have sex with men.

Living With HIV and Deaths

  • An estimated 284,500 women were living with HIV at the end of 2012, representing 23% of all Americans living with the virus. Of women living with HIV, around 11% do not know they are infected.
  • Of women diagnosed with HIV in 2013, 84% were linked to HIV medical care within 3 months. But only 55% of women living with HIV were retained in care (receiving continuous HIV medical care).f Only 39% of women living with HIV at the end of 2012 were prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART), the medicines used to treat HIV, and only 30% had achieved viral suppression.g
  • An estimated 1,859 women died from HIV or AIDS during 2013.

Prevention Challenges

  • The greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African American and Hispanic/Latino communities and the fact that people tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity mean that women from these communities face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.
  • Some women may be unaware of their male partner’s risk factors for HIV (such as injection drug use or having sex with men) and may not use condoms.
  • Assuming no prevention methods (such as condoms or medicines to prevent HIV) are used, the risk of getting HIV during vaginal sex is higher for women than it is for men. Anal sex is riskier for getting HIV than vaginal sex, and the risk is much greater for the receptive partner than for the insertive partner in anal sex. In a behavioral survey of heterosexual women at increased risk of HIV infection, 25% of HIV-negative women reported having anal sex without a condom in the previous year.
  • Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, greatly increase the likelihood of getting or spreading HIV.
  • Women who have been sexually abused may be more likely than women with no abuse history to engage in sexual behaviors like exchanging sex for drugs, having multiple partners, or having sex without a condom.

What CDC Is Doing

 photo of three womenThrough its high-impact prevention approach, CDC is working with state and local partners throughout the United States to identify and implement the most cost-effective and scalable interventions in the geographic areas and populations most affected by HIV. Activities include:

  • Funding to health departments and community-based organizations:
    • Starting in 2012, CDC has awarded at least $330 million each year ($343.7 million in 2015) to health departments to direct resources to the populations and geographic areas of greatest need and prioritize the HIV prevention strategies that will have the greatest impact.
    • CDC is awarding approximately $130 million over 5 years (2014-2019) to provide training and technical assistance for staff of health departments, community-based organizations, and health care organizations to help them link HIV-positive people to care, retain or reengage them in care, and help them achieve viral suppression.
  • The Act Against AIDScampaigns, including
    • Doing It, a new national HIV testing and prevention campaign that encourages all adults to know their HIV status and protect themselves and their community by making HIV testing a part of their regular health routine;
    • Let’s Stop HIV Together, which raises HIV awareness and fights stigma among all Americans and provides many stories about people living with HIV;
    • One Test. Two Lives., which provides resources to help obstetric providers test their patients.
  • Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT) to Act Against AIDS, a new 5-year partnership between CDC and leading national organizations representing the populations hardest hit by HIV and AIDS, to intensify HIV prevention efforts in these populations.
  • Research on microbicides—creams or gels that could be applied vaginally or anally before sexual contact to prevent HIV transmission.
  • Support and technical assistance to health departments and community-based organizations to deliver effective behavioral interventions.

a Referred to as African American in this fact sheet.
b Hispanics/Latinas can be of any race.
c Adult and adolescent females aged 13 and older.
d HIV and AIDS diagnoses indicate when a person is diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS, but do not indicate when the person was infected.
e Heterosexual sex with a person known to have, or be at high risk for, HIV infection.
f In 27 states and the District of Columbia (the areas with complete lab reporting by December 2014).
g A person with a suppressed viral load has a very low level of the virus. That person can stay healthy and has a dramatically reduced risk of transmitting the virus to others.

  1. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2014. HIV Surveillance Report 2014;26. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  2. CDC. Deaths: Final Data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Reports 2016;64(2). Accessed March 8, 2016.
  3. CDC. HIV infection, risk, prevention, and testing behaviors among heterosexuals at increased risk of HIV infection—National HIV Behavioral Surveillance, 20 U.S. cities, 2013. HIV Surveillance Special Report 13. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  4. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas—2013. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2015;20(2). Accessed January 28, 2016.
  5. Moreno CL. The relationship between culture, gender, structural factors, abuse, trauma, and HIV/AIDS for Latinas. Qual Health Res 2007;17(3):340-54. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  6. Crosby RA, DiClemente RJ, Wingood GM, Salazar LF, Head S, Rose E, McDermott-Sales J. Sexual agency versus relational factors: a study of condom use antecedents among high-risk young African American women. Sex Health 2008;5(1):41-7. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  7. Herbenick D, Reece M, Schick V, Sanders SA, Dodge B, Fortenberry JD. Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. J Sex Med 2010;7 Suppl 5:255-65. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  8. CDC. Sexually transmitted diseases surveillance 2013. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  9. Simoni JM, Sehgal S, Walters KL. Triangle of risk: urban American Indian women’s sexual trauma, injection drug use, and HIV sexual risk behaviors. AIDS Behav 2004;8(1):33-45. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  10. Cavanaugh CE, Hansen NB, Sullivan TP. HIV sexual risk behavior among low-income women experiencing intimate partner violence: the role of posttraumatic stress disorder. AIDS Behav 2010;14(2):318-27. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  11. Mosack KE, Randolph ME, Dickson-Gomez J, Abbott M, Smith E, Weeks MR. Sexual risk-taking among high-risk urban women with and without histories of childhood sexual abuse: mediating effects of contextual factors.J Child Sex Abus 2010;19(1):43-61. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  12. Coker AL. Does physical intimate partner violence affect sexual health? A systematic review. Trauma Violence Abuse 2007;8(2):149-77. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  13. Bauer HM, Gibson P, Hernandez M, Kent C, Klausner J, Bolan G. Intimate partner violence and high-risk sexual behaviors among female patients with sexually transmitted diseases. Sex Transm Dis 2002;29(7):411-6. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  14. Tross S, Hanner J, Hu MC, Pavlicova M, Campbell A, Nunes EV. Substance use and high risk sexual behaviors among women in psychosocial outpatient and methadone maintenance treatment programs. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 2009;35(5):368-74. PubMed abstract. Accessed January 28, 2016.
  15. Dinenno EA, Oster AM, Sionean C, Denning P, Lansky A. Piloting a system for behavioral surveillance among heterosexuals at increased risk of HIV in the United States. Open AIDS J 2012;6:169-76. Accessed January 28, 2016.


AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, & Families

Mother to Child Transmission Resources (AIDS Education and Training Centers)

Black Women and HIV/AIDS (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors)

HIV/AIDS (womenshealth.gov)

Women, Children, and HIV (University of California, San Francisco)

Cervical Cancer and HIV (SmartGlobalHealth.org)

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Last Reviewed: Nov 09, 2015

NetWellness Staff