HIV and Women: Viral Suppression

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 have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sex partners.

Women with Diagnosed HIV in 41 States and the District of Columbia, 2018*

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

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* 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. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB] [slides].

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, 2018*

Staying in HIV care is important to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.

29 percent of women missed at least 1 medical appointment in the past 12 months compared to 24 percent of people overall.

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

HIV Treatment Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

Taking HIV medicine consistently and as prescribed is the best way to achieve and maintain viral suppression.

58 percent of women reported taking all of their HIV medicine over the last 30 days compared to 59 percent of people overall.

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Note: Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
* Based on current gender identity.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Behavioral and clinical characteristics of persons with diagnosed HIV infection—Medical Monitoring Project, United States, 2018 cycle (June 2018–May 2019) pdf icon[PDF – 905 KB]. HIV Surveillance Special Report 2020; 25.

Needed Care Services Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

Having access to needed health care services could reduce barriers to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.

24 percent needed dental care, 14 percent needed shelter or housing services, and 13 percent needed SNAP or WIC

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

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

HIV Stigma Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

Cisgender women experienced higher HIV stigma compared to people overall.

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Note: Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.
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.
Visit the terminology section for terms and definitions.
Source: CDC. Behavioral and clinical characteristics of persons with diagnosed HIV infection—Medical Monitoring Project, United States, 2018 cycle (June 2018–May 2019) pdf icon[PDF – 905 KB]. HIV Surveillance Special Report 2020; 25.

Homelessness Among Women with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

People who experience homelessness may find it difficult to get HIV care and treatment.
clip art of buildings
10 percent of people overall reported homelessness in the past 12 months. Cisgender women also reported 10 percent.

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

Deaths

In 2018, there were 3,845 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.

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  2. CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018 pdf icon[PDF – 7 MB]HIV Surveillance Report 2020;31.
  3. CDC. Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the United States, 2014-2018 pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB]HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2020;25(1).
  4. CDC. HIV infection risk, prevention, and testing behaviors among heterosexually active adults at increased risk for HIV infection–National HIV Behavioral Surveillance – 23 U.S. Cities, 2019 pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB]. HIV Surveillance Special Report 2021; 26.
  5. CDC. HIV infection risk, prevention, and testing behaviors among persons who inject drugs–National HIV Behavioral Surveillance: injection drug use – 23 U.S. Cities, 2018 pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]. HIV Surveillance Special Report 2020; 24.
  6. CDC. HIV risk behaviors. Accessed January 28, 2020.
  7. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas, 2018 pdf icon[PDF – 4 MB]HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2020;25(2).
  8. CDC. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB] [slides].
  9. CDC. Social determinants of health among adults with diagnosed HIV infection, 2018 pdf icon[PDF – 10 MB]. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2020;25(3).
  10. CDC. Sexually transmitted disease surveillance, 2018. Accessed January 28, 2020.
  11. Bradley E, Forsberg K, Betts JE, et al. Factors affecting pre-exposure prophylaxis implementation for women in the United States: A systematic review. J Womens Health 2019;28(9):1272-85. PubMed abstractexternal icon.
  12. 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.
  13. McCree DH, Koenig LJ, Basile K, Fowler D, Green Y. Addressing the intersection of HIV and intimate partner violence among women with or at risk for HIV in the United States. J Womens Health 2015; 24(5):331-335. PubMed abstractexternal icon.
  14. Waldron M, Burnett-Zeigler I, Wee V, et al. Mental health in women living with HIV: The unique and unmet needs. J Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care 2021;20:1-18. PubMed abstractexternal icon.

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