HIV and Women

Though HIV diagnosesa among womenb have declined in recent years, more than 7,000 women received an HIV diagnosis in the United States (US) and dependent areas c in 2018.

The Numbers

 HIV Diagnoses

Of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the US and dependent areas in 2018, 19 percent were among women.

New HIV Diagnoses Among Women by Transmission Category in the US and Dependent Areas, 2018

Most of the new HIV diagnoses among women were attributed to heterosexual contact.

New HIV diagnoses among women by transmission category in the United States and dependent areas in 2018. Among women, 85 percent of diagnoses were attributed to heterosexual contact, 15 percent were attributed to injection drug use, and 1 percent was attributed to another mode of transmission.

*Includes hemophilia, blood transfusion, perinatal exposure, and risk factors not reported or not identified.
Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018 (Preliminary) pdf icon[PDF – 10 MB]HIV Surveillance Report 2019;30.

New HIV Diagnoses Among Women by Race/Ethnicity in the US and Dependent Areas, 2018.

New HIV diagnoses among women by race and ethnicity in the United States and dependent areas in 2018. Black/African American = 57 percent; White = 21 percent; Hispanic/Latina = 18 percent; Multiple races = 2 percent; Asian = 1 percent; American Indian/Alaska Native = less than 1 percent; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander = less than 1 percent.

* Black refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. African American is a term often used for Americans of African descent with ancestry in North America.
† Hispanics/Latinas can be of any race.
Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018 (Preliminary) pdf icon[PDF – 10 MB]HIV Surveillance Report 2019;30.

New HIV Diagnoses Among Women by Age in the US and Dependent Area, 2018.

New HIV diagnoses among women in the United States and dependent areas in 2018 by age. 13 to 24 = 14 percent; 25 to 34 = 27 percent; 35 to 44 = 24 percent; 45 to 54 = 20 percent; 55 and older = 16 percent.

Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018 (Preliminary) pdf icon[PDF – 10 MB]
. HIV Surveillance Report 2019;30.

HIV diagnoses decreased 23% among women overall from 2010 to 2017. Although trends varied for different groups of women, HIV diagnoses declined for groups most affected by HIV, including black/African Americand women and women aged 25 to 34.

HIV Diagnoses Among Women in the 50 States and District of Columbia, 2010-2017

This trend chart shows HIV diagnoses among women from 2010 to 2017 by race and ethnicity. Asian women increased 7 percent; Hispanic/Latina women decreased 23 percent; Black/African American women decreased 27 percent; White women remained stable; American Indian/Alaska Native women remained stable; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander increased 13 percent; Multiple races decreased 55 percent.

* Changes in subpopulations with fewer HIV diagnoses can lead to a large percentage increase or decrease.
† Hispanics/Latinas can be of any race.
Black refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. African American is a term often used for Americans of African descent with ancestry in North America.
Source: CDC. NCHHSTP AtlasPlus. Accessed March 26, 2020.

This trend chart shows HIV diagnoses among women from 2010 to 2017 by age. Women aged 13 to 24 decreased 30 percent; women aged 25 to 34 decreased 18 percent; women aged 35 to 44 decreased 30 percent; women aged 45 to 54 decreased 31 percent; women aged 55 and older remained stable.

Source: CDC. NCHHSTP AtlasPlus. Accessed March 26, 2020.

Living With HIV

Women With HIV in the 50 States and District of Columbia

At the end of 2016, an estimated 1.1 million people had HIV. Of those, 258,000 were women.

8 in 9 women knew they had the virus.

graphic of a bottle of pills

It is important for women to know their HIV status so they can take medicine to treat HIV if they have the virus. Taking HIV medicine every day can make the viral load undetectable. Women who get and keep an undetectable viral load (or stay virally suppressed) have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to HIV-negative sex partners.

For every 100 women with HIV in 2016, 66 received some HIV care, 51 were retained in care, and 53 were virally suppressed. For comparison, for every 100 people overall with HIV, 64 received some HIV care, 49 were retained in care, and 53 were virally suppressed.

* Had 2 viral load or CD4 tests at least 3 months apart in a year.
† Based on most recent viral load test.
Source: CDC. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes  pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB](slides).

When compared to people with HIV, women have about the same viral suppression rates. But more work is needed to increase these rates. In 2016, for every 100 women with HIV:

66 received some HIV care

51 were retained in care

53 were virally suppressed

For comparison, for every 100 people overall with HIV, 64 received some HIV care, 49 were retained in care, and 53 were virally suppressed.

Deaths

In 2017, there were 4,006 deaths among women with diagnosed HIV in the US and dependent areas. These deaths may be due to any cause.

Prevention Challenges

A woman with question marks.

1 in 9 women with HIV are unaware they have it. People who do not know they have HIV cannot take advantage of HIV care and treatment and may unknowingly pass HIV to others.

Two people in a bed.

Because some women may be unaware of their male partner’s risk factors for HIV (such as injection drug use or having sex with men), they may not use protection (like condoms or medicine to prevent HIV). In a behavioral survey pdf icon[PDF – 922 KB] of heterosexual women at increased risk for HIV, 93% of HIV-negative women reported having vaginal sex without a condom in the previous year, and 26% reported having anal sex without a condom.

Two people in a bed.

In general, receptive sex is riskier than insertive sex. This means that women have a higher risk for getting HIV during vaginal or anal sex than their sex partners.

A doctor with a stethoscope and clipboard.

HIV testing rates were low among women who reported having sex without a condom and reported multiple sex partners. Testing rates were especially low among women who reported anal sex. In a studyexternal icon, only 20% of women who reported anal sex also reported having an HIV test. Receptive anal sex is the riskiest behavior for getting HIV.

A hand holding a blue doctor bag.

Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, greatly increase the likelihood of getting or transmitting HIV.

A woman sitting on the floor with her head in her hands.

Women who have been sexually abused may be more likely than women who have not to engage in risky behaviors like exchanging sex for drugs, having multiple sex partners, or having sex without protection (such as using condoms or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV).

What CDC Is Doing

CDC is pursuing a high-impact HIV prevention approach to maximize the effectiveness of HIV prevention interventions and strategies. Funding state, territorial, and local health departments and community-based organizations (CBOs) to develop and implement tailored programs is CDC’s largest investment in HIV prevention. This includes longstanding successful programs and new efforts funded through the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. In addition to funding health departments and CBOs, CDC is also strengthening the HIV prevention workforce and developing HIV communication resources for consumers and health care providers.

  • Under the integrated HIV surveillance and prevention cooperative agreement, CDC awards around $400 million per year to health departments for HIV data collection and prevention efforts. This award directs resources to the populations and geographic areas of greatest need, while supporting core HIV surveillance and prevention efforts across the US.
  • In 2019, CDC awarded $12 million to support the development of state and local Ending the HIV Epidemic plans in 57 of the nation’s priority areas. To further enhance capacity building efforts, CDC uses HIV prevention resources to fund the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) $1.5 million per year to support strategic partnerships, community engagement, peer-to-peer technical assistance, and planning efforts.
  • In 2020, CDC will award around $109 million per year to support the implementation of state and local Ending the HIV Epidemic plans with a five-year funding program.
  • Under the flagship community-based organization cooperative agreement, CDC awards about $42 million per year to community organizations. This award directs resources to support the delivery of effective HIV prevention strategies to key populations.
  • In 2019, CDC awarded a cooperative agreement to strengthen the capacity and improve the performance of the nation’s HIV prevention workforce. New elements include dedicated providers for web-based and classroom-based national training, and technical assistance tailored within four geographic regions.
  • Through its Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign, CDC offers resources about HIV stigma, testing, prevention, and treatment and care. This campaign is part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative.

a HIV diagnoses refers to the number of people who received an HIV diagnosis during a given time period, not when the people got HIV infection.
b Adult and adolescent women aged 13 and older.
c Unless otherwise noted, the term United States (US) includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the 6 dependent areas of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the US Virgin Islands.
d Black refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. African American is a term often used for Americans of African descent with ancestry in North America.

  1. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018(Preliminary) pdf icon[PDF – 10 MB]. HIV Surveillance Report 2019;30.
  2. CDC. Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the United States, 2010-2016 pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB]. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2019;24(1).
  3. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas—2017 pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB]. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2019;24(3).
  4. CDC. HIV infection, risk, prevention, and testing behaviors among heterosexuals at increased risk of HIV infection—national HIV behavioral surveillance, 17 U.S. cities, 2016pdf iconHIV Surveillance Special Report 19.
  5. CDC. HIV risk behaviors. Accessed March 26, 2020.
  6. CDC. NCHHSTP AtlasPlus. Accessed March 26, 2020.
  7. CDC. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB] (slides).
  8. CDC. Sexually transmitted disease surveillance, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2020.
  9. Evans ME, Tao G, Porter SE, Gray SC, Huang YA, Hoover KW. Low HIV testing rates among US women who report anal sex and other HIV sexual risk behaviors, 2011-2015. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2018;219(4):1-7. PubMed abstractexternal icon.
  10. Cavanaugh CE, Hansen NB, Sullivan TP. HIV sexual risk behavior among low-income women experiencing intimate partner violence: The role of posttraumatic stress disorder. AIDS Behav 2010;14(2):318-27. PubMed abstractexternal icon.
  11. Dinenno EA, Oster AM, Sionean C, Denning P, Lansky A. Piloting a system for behavioral surveillance among heterosexuals at increased risk of HIV in the United States. Open AIDS J 2012;6:169-76. PubMed abstractexternal icon.
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