HIV and African Americans

Blacks/African Americansa account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnosesb and people living with HIV, compared to other races/ethnicities. In 2017, blacks/African Americans accounted for 13% of the US populationc but 43% (16,694) of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas.d

The Numbers

HIV Diagnoses

New HIV Diagnoses Among Blacks/African Americans
by Transmission Category and Sex in the US and Dependent Areas, 2017

These pie charts show the number of new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas among blacks/African Americans by transmission category and sex in 2017. Women, Heterosexual contact = 91%; Women, Injection drug use = 8%; Women, Other = 1%; Men, Male-to-male sexual contact = 80%; Men, Heterosexual contact = 14%; Men, Injection drug use = 4%; Men, Male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use = 2%; Men, Other = <1%.

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2017 pdf icon[PDF – 6 MB]. HIV Surveillance Report 2018;29.

In 2017:

  • Seventy-three percent (12,237) of adult and adolescent blacks/African Americans who received an HIV diagnosis were men and 26% (4,397) were women.
  • Sixty percent (10,070) of blacks/African Americans who received an HIV diagnosis were gay or bisexual men.e,f
  • Among black/African American gay and bisexual men who received an HIV diagnosis, 41% (4,088) were aged 25 to 34.

New HIV Diagnoses in the US and Dependent Areas
for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2017

This bar chart shows the estimated new HIV diagnoses for the most-affected subpopulations in the United States and dependent areas in 2017. Black/African American, Male-to-male sexual contact = 9,807; Hispanic/Latino, Male-to-male sexual contact = 7,436; White, Male-to-male sexual contact = 6,982; Black/African American Women, Heterosexual contact = 4,008; Black/African American Men, Heterosexual contact = 1,717; Hispanic Women/Latinas, Heterosexual contact = 1,058; White Women, Heterosexual contact = 999.

Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
Subpopulations representing 2% or less of HIV diagnoses are not reflected in this chart.

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2017 pdf icon[PDF – 6 MB]. HIV Surveillance Report 2018;29.

From 2010 to 2016, HIV diagnoses decreased 12% among blacks/African Americans overall in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. But trends varied for different groups of blacks/African Americans.

HIV Diagnoses Among Blacks/African Americans
in the 50 States and District of Columbia, 2010-2016

This chart shows HIV diagnoses trends for blacks/African Americans from 2010 to 2016. HIV diagnoses among women decreased 25%, heterosexual men decreased 26%, gay and bisexual men overall remained stable, gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 remained stable, gay and bisexual men aged 25 to 34 increased 40%, gay and bisexual men aged 35 to 44 decreased 21%, gay and bisexual men aged 45 to 54 decreased 30%, and gay and bisexual men aged 55 and older remained stable.

CDC. NCHHSTP AtlasPlus. Accessed January 24, 2019.

Living With HIV

In the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

An estimated 468,800 blacks/African Americans had HIV in 2015, representing 42% of all people with HIV.g Of those, an estimated 85% were aware of their infection.

For every 100 blacks/African Americans with HIV in 2015, 60 received some HIV care, 46 were retained in care, and 46 were virally suppressed.
graphic of a bottle of pills


A person with HIV who takes HIV medicine as prescribed and gets and stays virally suppressed or undetectable can stay healthy and has effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.


In 2016, there were 6,804 deaths among blacks/African Americans with diagnosed HIV in the US. These deaths may be due to any cause.

Prevention Challenges

1 in 7 blacks/African Americans 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.

Some African American communities have higher rates of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than other racial/ethnic communities. Having another STD can increase a person’s chance of getting or transmitting HIV.

Stigma, fear, discrimination, and homophobia may place many African Americans at higher risk for HIV.

The poverty rate is higher among African Americans than other racial/ethnic groups. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty—including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education—directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV. These factors may explain why African Americans have worse outcomes on the HIV continuum of care, including lower rates of linkage to care and viral suppression.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC funds state and local health departments and community-based organizations (CBOs) to deliver effective HIV prevention services for African Americans. For example:

  • Under the new integrated HIV surveillance and prevention cooperative agreement, CDC is awarding around $400 million per year to health departments for surveillance and prevention efforts. This award will direct resources to the populations and geographic areas of greatest need, while supporting core HIV surveillance and prevention efforts across the United States.
  • In 2019, CDC will award a new 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.
  • In 2017, CDC awarded nearly $11 million per year for 5 years to 30 CBOs to provide HIV testing to young gay and bisexual men of color and transgender youth of color, with the goals of identifying undiagnosed HIV infections and linking those who have HIV to care and prevention services.
  • In 2015, CDC added three awards to help health departments reduce HIV infections and improve engagement and retention in HIV medical care among gay and bisexual men of color.
    • Targeted Highly-Effective Interventions to Reverse the HIV Epidemic (THRIVE) supports state and local health department demonstration projects to develop community collaborations that provide comprehensive HIV prevention and care services for gay and bisexual men of color at risk for and living with HIV infection.
    • Training and Technical Assistance for THRIVE strengthens the capacity of funded health departments and their collaborative partners to plan, implement, and sustain (through ongoing engagement, assessment, linkage, and retention) comprehensive prevention, care, behavioral health, and social services models for gay and bisexual men of color at risk for and living with HIV infection.
    • Project PrIDE (PrEP, Implementation, Data to Care, and Evaluation) supports 12 health departments in implementing PrEP and Data to Care demonstration projects for gay and bisexual men and transgender persons, with a particular emphasis on persons of color.
  • Through its Let’s Stop HIV Together campaigns and partnerships, CDC provides African Americans with effective and culturally appropriate messages about HIV prevention and treatment. For example,
    • Stop HIV Stigma fights stigma among all Americans and provides many stories about people living with HIV.
    • Doing It encourages all adults to know their HIV status and protect themselves and their community by making HIV testing a part of their regular health routine.
    • Start Talking. Stop HIV. helps gay and bisexual men communicate about testing and a range of HIV prevention strategies.
    • HIV Treatment Works shows how people living with HIV have overcome barriers to stay in care and provides resources on how to live well with HIV.
    • Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT) to Act Against AIDS, a 5-year partnership with organizations such as the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Urban League, and the Black Men’s Xchange, is raising awareness about testing, prevention, and retention in care among populations disproportionately affected by HIV, including African Americans.

a Black refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa, including immigrants from the Caribbean, and South and Latin America. African American is a term often used for Americans of African descent with ancestry in North America. Individuals may self-identify as either, both, or choose another identity altogether. This fact sheet uses African American, unless referencing surveillance data.
b 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.
c The US Census Bureau’s population estimates include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
d 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.
e The term male-to-male sexual contact is used in CDC surveillance systems. It indicates a behavior that transmits HIV infection, not how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality. This fact sheet uses the term gay and bisexual men.
f Includes infections attributed to male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use (men who reported both risk factors).
g Includes diagnosed and undiagnosed HIV infections among adults and adolescents.

Additional Resources

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