Why HIV Still Threatens African American and Hispanic Women and What to Do

 

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Most African American and Hispanic women with HIV got it through heterosexual sex. Thus, their future well-being and heritage is still threatened by HIV. . . 2009 HIV data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) highlighted the extent to which HIV still threatens the health and well-being of African American and Hispanic communities:
  • African American men accounted for 70% of the estimated new HIV infections among all African Americans.
  • New HIV infections are more than 6 times higher in African American men than White men.
  • African American men who have sex with men represented 73% of all new HIV infections among African American men.
  • Again, most (85%) of African American women with HIV got it through heterosexual sex. That’s 15 times the rate for White women, and 3 times the rate for Hispanic women.
Why More African American and Hispanic Women Develop HIV Infection
More African American and Hispanic women are at risk of developing HIV infection because more of them live in communities where they have sex with other African American and Hispanic, and each time they have unprotected sex with a new person in their community, they have a greater risk of getting HIV infection.

Other things that increase an African American, and Hispanic, woman’s risk of getting HIV are conditions associated with poverty, including:

  • Inadequate HIV prevention education
  • Lack of awareness of their HIV status
  • Possible attitudes about the meaning of test results
  • Stigma (see our tip sheet on the stigma, and how to fight it)
  • Fear
  • Discrimination, and
  • Homophobia and not being informed enough about “The Down Low”, and possible ways to address it.
Ways African American and Hispanic Women at High risk of HIV Can Protect Themselves
  1. Unless you are 100 percent (%) sure that you’re having sex with a man who is uninfected, and you’re not having sex with anyone else (monogamous), insist that the man you have sex with always uses a condom.?
  2. If there’s a chance you might have unplanned sex with someone, be sure to have condoms with you, rather than depending on the man to have them, which he may not. We’re saying condoms, instead of gone condom, in case there’s only one condom and it’s defective.
  3. If you’re not sure of your HIV status, get an HIV test, and based on the result, take the appropriate action.
  4. Be aware of the “Down Low” (men who have sex with men), and if you’re having sex with a man who you think is on the “Down Low”, be sure to protect yourself, including possibly consulting an HIV expert about how to best handle the situation.

Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!

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