HIV and Women: Viral Suppression and Barriers to Care

Data for 2020 should be interpreted with caution due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to HIV testing, care-related services, and case surveillance activities in state and local jurisdictions. While 2020 data on HIV diagnoses and prevention and care outcomes are available, we are not updating this web content with data from these reports.

Viral suppression is one of the six Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. indicators. Viral suppression refers to the percentage of people with diagnosed HIV who have less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.

EHE goal: increase the percentage of people with HIV who have are virally suppressed to 95 percent by 2025.
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. People who get and keep an undetectable viral load (or remain virally suppressed) can stay healthy for many years and will not transmit HIV to their sex partners.

Women with Diagnosed HIV in 44 States and the District of Columbia, 2019*
For women with diagnosed HIV in 2019, chart compares viral suppression rates.

This chart shows compared to all people with diagnosed HIV, women have lower viral suppression rates.

* Based on sex assigned at birth.
 Had 2 viral load or CD4 tests at least 3 months apart in a year.
‡ Based on most recent viral load test.
Source: CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data United States and 6 dependent areas, 2019. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report. 2021;26(2).

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Although many people taking HIV medicine are virally suppressed, some people with HIV who are taking HIV medicine are currently not virally suppressed or do not maintain viral suppression over time. Some challenges with achieving and maintaining viral suppression include missing multiple doses of HIV treatment, missing medical appointments, or needing other important health care services.

Missed HIV Medical Care Appointments Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†
Staying in HIV care is important to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.
Chart compares number of missed HIV medical care appointments among women with diagnosed HIV in 2019.

Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
* Based on current gender identity.
† Among people aged 18 and older.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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HIV Treatment Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†
Taking HIV medicine consistently and as prescribed is the best way to achieve and maintain viral suppression.
Chart compares HIV treatment among women with diagnosed HIV in the US in 2019.

Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
* Based on current gender identity.
† Among people aged 18 and older.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Needed HIV Ancillary Care Services Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†‡
Having access to needed health care services could reduce barriers to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.
Chart shows the top three services cisgender women reported needing, but not receiving in the past 12 months.
Nearly half of all people with HIV needed at least 1 HIV ancillary care service in the past 12 months.

Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
* Based on current gender identity.
† Among people aged 18 and older.
‡ HIV ancillary care services, such as case management and mental health services, are services that support retention in HIV care.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†
People who experience symptoms of depression or anxiety may faces challenges maintaining viral suppression.
Chart compares percentage of women to all people with diagnosed HIV who had symptoms of depression and anxiety in 2019.

Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
* Based on current gender identity.
† Among people aged 18 and older.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Social and economic issues—such as stigma and homelessness—have also prevented some women from getting the HIV care and treatment they need.

Homelessness Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†
People who experience homelessness may find it difficult to get HIV care and treatment.
clip art of buildings
Chart compares percentage of women to all people with diagnosed HIV who reported homelessness in  2019.

Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
* Based on current gender identity.
† Among people aged 18 and older.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Median HIV Stigma Score Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†
Chart compares stigma experienced by women to all people with diagnosed HIV in 2019.

Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
Median HIV stigma scores are presented based on a ten-item scale ranging from 0 (no stigma) to 100 (high stigma) that measures personalized stigma, disclosure concerns, negative self-image, and perceived public attitudes about people with HIV.
* Based on current gender identity.
† Among people aged 18 and older.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project
.

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Deaths

In 2019, there were 3,710 deaths among women with diagnosed HIV in the US and dependent areas. These deaths could be from any cause.

Cisgender: A person whose sex assigned at birth is the same as their gender identity or expression.

Gender expression: A person’s outward presentation of their gender (for example, how they dress).

Gender identity: A person’s internal understanding of their own gender.

Transgender: A person whose gender identity or expression is different from their sex assigned at birth.