Examining HIV/AIDS Rate Among Black Women

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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U.S. News & World Report recently looked at how "black women continue to be struck particularly hard" by HIV/AIDS (Payne, U.S. News & World Report, 9/12). According to the latest available figures reported by CDC, blacks in 2006 had the highest HIV/AIDS incidence rate of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. The research was a follow-up to a CDC study released last month that found there were about 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available.

Among women, 61% of new infections occurred among blacks, 23% among whites and 16% among Hispanics. The rate of new infections among black women is almost 15 times higher than among white women; the rate among Hispanic women is nearly four times higher than white women, the study said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/12).

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In 2005, black women accounted for 64% of the more than 126,000 women living with the virus. The disease has been among the top three causes of death for black women ages 25 to 34 in the last few years, according to U.S. News.

Eighty percent of new HIV infections in women in 2006 stemmed from heterosexual sex with a high-risk partner, CDC data indicate. C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, said that "because of how this (disease) is spreading through heterosexual black women," it makes sense to discuss the connection to men who secretly have sex with other men, as well as to the number of black men who return from prison and are not tested for sexually transmitted infections before having sex with their girlfriends or wives. According to the CDC report, male-to-male sexual contact accounted for 63% of new HIV infections among black men. In addition, CDC estimates that HIV prevalence among those who are incarcerated is about five times higher than that of the general population, U.S. News reports.

Raymond Martins, medical director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, said women should feel "empowered to make sure that their partner uses a condom. Especially in the black community, that doesn't seem to always be the case" (U.S. News & World Report, 9/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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