AIDS Facts Among African-Americans


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, has affected African-Americans more than any other ethnic or racial group in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. The disparity is due to unique issues African-Americans face, including a greater incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, poverty and the negative perception of AIDS, which encourages less awareness of the disease and associated risky behavior.


The earliest documented AIDS cases among African-Americans occurred in the 1980s, according to AVERT. As in the general population, the initial identified cases primarily involved homosexual men and intravenous drug users. The first documented case of an African-American woman with AIDS occurred in 1983. By 1988, African-American women comprised half of all AIDS cases in women, and they accounted for 60 percent in 2007. African-American men comprised 39 percent of all AIDS cases in men in 2007, compared to white men, who accounted for 40 percent.


Trends for AIDS and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS) cases in 2007 indicate that both affect African-Americans disproportionately. For example, African-Americans constituted approximately half of all AIDS and HIV cases, although they only represented about 13 percent of the population in the United States. African-Americans also survive for less time after developing AIDS due to such barriers as poverty, reports the CDC, and more African-Americans die from AIDS, which is a top cause of death among African-Americans. In 2007, 40 percent of the people with AIDS who died were African-American. Additionally, the CDC states African-American children constituted about 63 percent of AIDS and HIV cases in children under age 13 in 2005.


Although diagnosis of AIDS decreased among African-Americans in 2007, African-Americans still received an AIDS diagnosis 10 times more often than white people, the second-largest group of AIDS cases, according to the CDC. The situation was even worse for African-American women, who received an AIDS diagnosis 22 times more often than white women.


The most common ways African-American men acquire HIV, which leads to AIDS, are unprotected sex with an HIV-infected partner and sharing syringes or needles with HIV-infected people. The most common ways African-American women get HIV are unprotected sex with an HIV-infected man and sharing syringes or needles with HIV-infected people. The first documented African-American woman with AIDS acquired the disease from having unprotected sex with a man who used drugs intravenously.


Given the imbalanced AIDS and HIV statistics, African-Americans often feel the government in the United States is not trying hard enough to reverse the high incidence of both conditions among African-Americans, according to AVERT. In reality, the CDC distributes its annual budget for AIDS and HIV matters based on proportion. As a result, the federal agency devotes about half of the budget to the epidemic of AIDS among African-Americans, which equals the rate of AIDS and HIV in the African-American population. Initiatives include increasing awareness of prevention strategies, increasing testing rates and introducing new intervention methods.

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