HIV and African American People: Viral Suppression and Barriers to Care

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.
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It is important for Black/African American people 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.

Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in 44 States and the District of Columbia, 2019
Black/African American People and the Continuum of Care

Black/African American People and the Continuum of Care

*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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Many people with HIV experience challenges with achieving and maintaining viral suppression over time. Some of these challenges include missing HIV medical appointments, needing but not receiving other important health care services, or missing doses of HIV treatment.

Missed HIV Medical Care Appointments Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*
Staying in HIV care is important to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.
Missed HIV Medical Care Appointments Among Black/African American People  with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019

*Among people ages 18 years and older.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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HIV Treatment Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*
Taking HIV medicine consistently and as prescribed is the best way to achieve and maintain viral suppression.
HIV Treatment Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019

*  Among people aged 18 and older.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Needed HIV Ancillary Care Services Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*†
HIV ancillary care services are essential for supporting people in staying in HIV care and maintaining viral suppression.
This chart shows the top services Black/African American people reported needing but not receiving..
Nearly half of all people with HIV needed at least 1 HIV ancillary care service in the past 12 months.

*  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.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*
People who experience symptoms of depression or anxiety may face challenges maintaining viral suppression.
This chart shows the percentage of Black/African American people with HIV who experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

* Among people aged 18 and older.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Homelessness Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*
People who experience homelessness may find it difficult to get HIV care and treatment.
Homelessness Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019

*  Among people aged 18 and older.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Median HIV Stigma Score Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019*
Median HIV Stigma Score Among Black/African American People with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2019

NOTE: 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.
*  Among people aged 18 and older.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

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Deaths

In 2019, there were 6,634 deaths among Black/African American people with diagnosed HIV in the US and dependent areas. These deaths could be from any cause.

  1. CDC Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2019. HIV Surveillance Report 2021;32.
  2. CDC. Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the United States, 2015–2019. pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB] HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2021;26(1).
  3. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas, 2019HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2021;26(2).
  4. Randolph SD, Golin C, Welgus H, Lightfoot AF, Harding CJ, Riggins LF. How perceived structural racism and discrimination and medical mistrust in the health system influences participation in HIV health services for Black women living in the United States South: a qualitative, descriptive study. J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care2020;31(5):598-605. PubMed abstractexternal icon.
  5. Beer L, McCree DH, Jeffries WL 4th, Lemons A, Sionean C. Recent US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activities to reduce HIV stigmaexternal iconJ Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care2019;18:1-5.
  6. CDC. Sexually transmitted disease surveillance, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2022.