Black Women and HIV – How HIV Threatens African-American Women’s Heritage

Black women and HIV, it's still here
Most (85%) of African American women with HIV got it through heterosexual sex.  Thus, the future well-being and heritage of the black community is being seriously threatened by this epidemic. Although African Americans made up 14% of the U.S. population in 2009, they made up 44% of all new HIV infections.
In order to better understand why more African American women are getting HIV, it’s important to understand what the latest (2009) HIV data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) for the overall African American community shows, since women are a very important part of that community:
  • 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 black 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 Black Women Develop HIV Infection

More African American women are at risk of developing   HIV infection because more of them live in communities where they have sex with other African Americans, and each time they have unprotected sex with a new person in such a 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 Black Women and Others 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 one 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.

What’s the best reason a woman can give for not having sex with a man unless he uses a condom?

How can you tell if a man you’re about to have sex with is HIV positive?

Please let us know what you think, and be careful for yourself!

And remember, Knowledge + Action = Power!®


To your good health, physically, spiritually, and mentally,

Dr. Goodwin

President and Founder

Health Power for Minorities

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