Pronounced racial disparities found in HIV transmission in the United States

Despite overall progress in reducing HIV transmission in the United States, the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) continues to affect some groups more than others due to longstanding and ingrained barriers.

AIDS is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. By damaging a victim’s immune system, HIV interferes with a body’s ability to fight infection and disease.

The disease is usually asymptomatic until it progresses to AIDS, when symptoms include weight loss, fever or night sweats, fatigue, and recurrent infections.

Once people get HIV, they have it for life. No cure exists for AIDS, but strict adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) can dramatically slow the disease’s progress, prevent secondary infections and complications, and prolong life.

Black or African American people account for a higher proportion of new HIV infections, compared to other races and ethnicities.

Black people comprise only 13 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for 40 percent of people with HIV in 2019, according to CDC estimates.

Of the estimated 34,800 people with new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2019, 14,300 were Black/African American, 10,200 were Hispanic/Latino, 8,600 were White, 900 were multiracial, 550 were Asian, and 230 were American Indian/Alaska Native.

Of the estimated 1,189,700 people with HIV in the U.S. in 2019, 479,300 were Black/African American, 294,200 were Hispanic/Latino, 338,600 were White, 54,100 were multiracial, 17,700 were Asian, 4,000 were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1,100 were Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander.

HIV disparities can and must end.

Learning the basics about the disease can keep people healthy and prevent HIV transmission.

Racism, longstanding systemic inequities, residential segregation, social and economic marginalization, and other ingrained barriers are among the factors that have contributed to these troubling and persistent disparities.

To achieve health equity and end the HIV epidemic, the nation must overcome barriers that, for far too long, have stood between some people and highly effective HIV prevention and treatment tools.

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