Know the Facts


Regarding Women in the United States…

• Women account for a growing share of new infections in the United States. In 1984, women represented 8% of AIDS diagnoses; by 2005, they accounted for 27% of AIDS cases. In 2007, women represent an estimated 30% of new HIV infections in the United States.

• 80% of HIV and AIDS diagnoses in women in the U.S. in 2005 were attributed to heterosexual contact.

• In 2004, HIV infection was: the leading cause of death for African American women aged 25-34 years, the third leading cause of death for African American women aged 35-44 years, and the fourth leading cause of death for African American women aged 45-54 years.

• In 2004, HIV infection was the fourth leading cause of death for Latina women aged 35 to 44 years.

• Of the 127,150 women living with HIV/AIDS, 64% were African American, 19% were white, 15% were Hispanic, 1% were Asian or Pacific Islander, and less than 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native.

• Of new AIDS diagnoses among women, about 67% are African American, 16% are Latina, 16% are white, and 1% are “other”. Of the general U.S. population of women, about 12% are African American, 13% are Latina, 69% are white, and 6% are “other”.

• According to a recent CDC study of more than 19,500 patients with HIV in 10 US cities, women were slightly less likely than men to receive prescriptions for the most effective treatments for HIV infection.

• The rate of AIDS diagnosis for African American women (49.9/100,000 women) was approximately 24 times the rate for white women (2.1/100,000) and 4 times the rate for Hispanic women (12.2/100,000).

• Most women with AIDS were diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 44, indicating that most were probably infected at a relatively young age.

• The HIV Services and Cost Utilization Study (HSCUS) found that women with HIV were disproportionately low income. Nearly two-thirds (64%) had annual incomes below $10,000 compared to 41% of men.

• HSCUS also found that about 76% of women with HIV/AIDS receiving medical care had children under age 18 in their homes.

Regarding Adolescents in the United States…

• In 2007, it is estimated that 1 in every 2 new HIV infections are in people under the age of 25.

• Most HIV-infected adolescents and young adults are exposed to the virus through sexual intercourse.

Regarding Infants and Children Worldwide…

• Mother to child transmission is estimated to cause more than 90 percent of infections worldwide in infants and children.

• Breastfeeding increases the risk of HIV transmission by about 10 to 14 percent. In developing countries, an estimated 1/3 to ½ of all HIV infections are transmitted by breastfeeding. In the U.S., the incidence of mother to child transmission has fallen due to antiretroviral therapy.

Differences between Men & Women…

• Women are biologically vulnerable to heterosexual transmission of HIV due to substantial mucosal exposure from seminal fluids.

• Women living with HIV are likely to be diagnosed later and have lower CD4 counts at time of diagnoses.

• Women experience the same complications of AIDS that afflict men but also experience gender-specific manifestations of HIV disease, such as recurrent vaginal yeast infections and severe pelvic inflammatory disease, which increases their risk of cervical cancer.


Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Vol. 17, 2006.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s HIV/AIDS Supplemental Report Vol. 10, No 1, Table 5
Bozzette SA et al., “The Care of HIV-Infected Adults in the United States.” NEJM, Vol 339, No. 26, 1998

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