The one ethnic group that is most severely affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S. is.....African-Americans. Since the beginning of the epidemic, Blacks have accounted for about 42% of the AIDS cases diagnosed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, African-Americans make up roughly 12% of the U.S. population, but account for approximately 50% of the diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases.

In 2005, the rate of AIDS diagnoses for Black adults and adolescents was
10 times the rate for whites and almost 3 times the rate for Hispanics. To fully understand these disproportionate statistics, we're going to dig a little deeper into the numbers as well as take a look at some root causes.

HIV/AIDS & African-American Men

Within the African-American population, men represent 64% of AIDS cases. In 2005, the rate of AIDS diagnoses for Black men was 8 times the rate for white men. Furthermore, looking at the different ethnic populations of male adults and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, Black men made up 41%.


In 2006, 40% of the men newly infected with HIV were Black.

In regards to methods of transmission among African-American men, Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) accounted for
45% of Black men living with AIDS in 2006. Injection drug use (IDU) accounted for roughly 27%, and high-risk heterosexual contact accounted for about 19%.

HIV/AIDS & African-American Women

Seeing as men represent 64% of the AIDS cases within the African-American population, women represent
36%. In 2005, the rate of AIDS diagnoses for Black women was nearly 23 times the rate of white women. Looking at different ethnic groups living with HIV/AIDS in 2005, Black women made up 64%.


AIDS is now the leading cause of death among black women ages 25-34.

HIV/AIDS & Youth and Children

Of the individuals
under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made during 2001-2004 in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 61% were Black. Even more disturbing, recent estimates have found that Blacks (non-Hispanic) ages 19-24 are approximately 20 times more likely to be infected with HIV than young adults in any other racial group. According to the international AIDS charity AVERT:

The overall infection rate among young Black people is 4.9 per 1,000 people, as compared to 0.22 per 1,000 people in all other racial groups.

Thanks to new treatment and the implementation of government prevention guidelines, the HIV rate among children and infants is now quite low. However, of the few infants that are still being born with HIV, a substantial number are African-American. Of the 135 infants diagnosed in 2006, 69% were Black.

So now the question becomes: Why is the HIV infection and AIDS diagnoses so disproportionately high in the African-American community? We'll examine some specific risk factors and barriers to prevention in Part II.

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