HIV Rates Among Black Women in Some US Cities Now Rivals African Countries

March 9, 2012  |  

Rates of HIV among black women in Baltimore, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Washington, DC, Newark, and New York City have been found to be five times higher than previous CDC estimates, and the rate of infection is now equal to some African countries.

The latest data comes from the ISIS (Women’s HIV Seroincidence) Study which analyzes at-risk women in these six urban areas of the United States, which have some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS. A total of 2,099 women ages 18 to 44 who had never had a positive HIV test were included in the study; 88 percent were black and 12 percent Latina. At the time of enrollment, researchers found that 32 women were infected with HIV but were unaware of their status.

Within one year of joining the study, 0.24 percent of the women tested positive for the disease. According to ABC, this number compares to HIV rates found in the general population of many sub-Saharan African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (0.28 percent) and Kenya (0.53 percent).

Dr. Carlos Del Rio, principal investigator for the Atlanta area of the study and professor of medicine and infectious disease at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said “this epidemic is the face of the forgotten people.”

“This disease is alive and well in this country,” he added.

Dr. Del Rio said the “hot spots” for the disease are some of the most impoverished parts of the United States, which is bad from a social standpoint, but the centralization gives healthcare advocates specific targets for intervention efforts. According to Dr. Sally Hodder, lead author of the study and professor of medicine at New Jersey Medical School in Newark:

“Slightly more than 40 percent of the women did not know the HIV status of their last sexual partner. And more than 40 percent of our participants had an annual household income of $10,000 or less.”

Given that information, and the fact that after one-year of follow-up, 10 of the women included in the study died of causes unrelated to HIV, Dr. Del Rio said prevention efforts have to take a multi-pronged approach.

“We can’t just say, ‘Here’s some information on AIDS and here are some condoms. We’re talking about structural interventions that are needed. We need better access to medical care and screenings, substance abuse treatment, education, and job availability for these areas of the country.

“This is going to need some bold leadership and out-of-the-box thinking,” he added. “I do think it really can be stopped, though. It’s not beyond hope and I honestly don’t think it wouldn’t even take that long to eradicate the disease, it just needs a lot of imagination.”

Do you think there’s hope in the fight against HIV among black women? What do you think should be done?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • JJ truth

    A lot of these hiv/aids statistics regarding black infection rates are blatant lies. If there were any truth to these fallacies black women in America would be extinct since most blacks can’t afford the expensive AIDS medicines available to wealthy white homosexuals. Transferring the social stigma to black women is nothing but a plot by homosexual organization to secure public funding. I’m not so gullible as to believe white people don’t have a problem with HIV/AIDS. Whites inject drugs and have unprotected sex & homosexual sex at higher rates than blacks. I’m not believing the hype & lies. In fact, white females are having sex with black men more than black women or just as much in addition to white males and males of other races. The white female is more promiscuous than black women having more sex partners over a lifetime. These reports are garbage generated to keep blacks down.

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  • TheReal

    I’ve noticed that it seems like a lot of Black women online hate anything that’s said about them unless it’s how wonderful and beautiful they are. Everything else is just a “generalization” or skewed statistics. The reality is that many women will have unprotected sex – with no testing ever taking place – with whatever man that comes along and makes them feel good enough on the inside. Talking about HIV/AIDS, STDS, etc is kind of like White people talking about race: Most of them say all of the right things, but much of their behavior and the statistics tell a very, very different story.

  • Bella

    For everyone who keeps talking ish about people needing to keep their legs closed and such: please take a seat. Get your head out of the clouds ladies and gents – this is the 21st Century: people have sex and there’s nothing wrong it. You are not God and therefore have no right to judge. Just because you might be waiting until marriage and such, does not make you immune to STDs, so do everyone a favour and stfu. I think what needs to be done about this situation is more EDUCATION and a bit more COMMON SENSE – simple! As for the study, I want to see their results, as this sounds a bit fishy to me.

    • JJ truth

      People who don’t have sex ARE definitely immune from STDS, AIDS & HIV. Get your head out of the sand 21st century is meaningless when all the above mentioned diseases are 21st century realities. You should take your own advice an stfu or better yet just drop dead from what’s eating you be it aid/hiv or std’s.

  • Stans4ForreaIs

     If sistas HIV numbers r growing like this then the black males numbers
    must be off the charts. U don’t even hear of their stars cuz they aren’t
    even getting tested unless they’re gay.. It’s time to start wrapping up
    no questions asked for both black men & women…

  • Rormdavis45

    The only way that this disease will be eradicated is for people to stop committing fornication,and Adultery keep your legs closed and your pants zipped period!!!!!!!!


      Co-sign… I guess the good book is not irrelevant like people today want to think.

      • Tonias

        l Love both of your comments.  Contrary to what we/society wants to believe and portray, God gave us direction on how to live.  We chose otherwise and now look at us…HIV, OOW births, lack of marriage, etc.  Christians, especially, have to be wise to what is going on…this is all part of the plan to kill, steal and destroy.  It’s the enemy’s work at hand, but us Christians have to choose differently and follow The Word

    • JJ truth

      Legs open & pants unzipped are part of procreation and even GOD approves of it as long as its done within the monogamous boundaries of marriage. Mankind/humanity was never made to live alone. Marriage and the family are both ordained by God, who made human bodies capable of reproduction. Its abnormal for everyone to remain eunuchs & virgins. Get a grip.

  • Statistics are bullshit…like who can REALLY know that when 1/3 of the nation is uninsured or under insured? But lets take it a step further…. why do we always hear about HIV as it related to the African-American community as if whites, Latinos, Asians, Indians ect…. aren’t catching and spreading this deadly virus at an alarming rate? Everyone needs to be more wise about contraception and who they choose to lay with.. lay with a someone unprotected and NEVER ask to see some paperwork to prove they are clean? How are you sexin and too afaird to ask him/her to take the test?…sad…..but moving on, we need affordable healthcare, we need jobs, we need better education especially in our major cities and not just for black woman but for ALL Americans.

  • Bennettwalker1

    HIV is a bioweapon against minorities. It’s probably in the vaccines especially the ones in Africa. Whites have sex just as much as Blacks, but their rates aren’t has high. You can call me a conspiracy theorist, but something isn’t adding up. It’s all about eugenics.

    • guest510

      I totally agree. People have been dying from cancer since forever but all of a sudden HIV comes along and wipes people out. I really do think that disease was made in a lab somewhere. I went to a mostly white college and the white girls were having more drunken, unprotected sex than I’ve ever seen before but minorities are the ones getting HIV left and right.
      In any event, men and women of every race, color and ethnicity need to get tested and protect themselves. It’s not just a black woman or gay man’s problem.

      • Kinney Elphaba

        I soooo cosign this. People say that’s a crazy idea but white people have been doing that to people they wanted to control or eliminate since day one. Just ask the Native Americans, they wouldn’t call that a conspiracy-they would call it a historical fact! White people purposefully gave them smallpox and alcohol to kill them off so they could take their land and put them on reservations. No doubt they are doing the same with us. White people are apparently naturally immune to HIV too. They get exposed to it but don’t get infected because of an enzyme….how convienent.

      • Kinney Elphaba

        “WEDNESDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) – New research suggests that people of African descent are much more likely to have a genetic trait that makes them more susceptible to infection with the HIV virus.

        Scientists estimate that the trait — which also provides protection against a form of malaria — might account for 11 percent of the HIV cases in Africa, the continent hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic.

        Overall, the finding shows how the past history of evolution and disease still affects people today, said study co-author Matthew J. Dolan, of the Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center and San Antonio Military Medical Center. “The benefit that the Africans got from a mutation that gave them some resistance to malaria has, statistically at least, rendered them some increased susceptibility to HIV,” he said.

        Researchers have spent years trying to understand why some people who are exposed to the AIDS virus don’t get infected. An estimated 70 percent to 90 percent of children born to infected mothers don’t develop the disease, and some gay men have avoided it despite repeated exposure.”

        • JJ truth

          B.s. They spent years perfecting evil biotechnology against blacks. But there is still God. White devils using science for evil.

  • i want to see some of these studies and statistics. 

  • guest

    I agree with most abstinence is the key, but if you’re afraid this disease you’re never going to truly live. @  Kellz, you’ll think marriage will protect you from this disease, but a sincere monogamous relationship will protect you from it, if one respects and be faithful to his or her relationship, maybe this disease can be controlled. I’m not putting marriage down I believe in true marriage but most married couple don’t respect the vows they made in front of God, men and women, and I’ve seen too many marriages destroyed by this disease. 
    Like my aunt says this disease is for human not for trees, so anybody can get it and the best thing to do is to educated yourself about HIV and AIDS, get tested, know your status which is very important, and protect yourself by wrapping it up. 

  • The thing that a whole lot of people are missing is that it can take from six weeks to six months for your body to produce enough antibodies to cause you to test positive. What that means is that someone can be HIV positive and STILL test negative for a while. So, someone presenting you with their “papers” and saying they’re HIV negative might not mean a damn thing. What I would do? If I were considering having unprotected sex with a (hopefully) monogamous partner, we would go get tested together, continue condom use for six months, then test AGAIN. Unfortunately if someone is being dishonest with you and having unprotected sex with other folks, you’re still not safe. We should still be using all the precautions we can to NOT contract HIV, though.

    • Orangestar616

      I think folk should use condoms anyway, even after being tested, even after six months.
      Unless that man is your husband and he is an honest, and faithful man no question and you know this by his actions, I would still use condoms. I left that point out of my comment but this is crucial!!!!!!!!……….. and/or you can always be abstinent.


       Thank you! Ive always said you should wait at least 3 mos to have sex with a man. Emough time to get a pretty accurate hiv test!

      • JJ truth

        If you can’t trust the person you love why have sex at all? Just shut your legs and be celibate for the rest of your life? Be a virgin until you die. Don’t have sex at all and don’t have any black children. Isn’t that the point of scaring people into a false construct of safe sex? More blacks died in the middle passage than died of AIDS/HIV. Why is it they won’t tell you what causes it? How can you formulate drugs, treatments and propose cures for a disease for which there is no known origin? Political b.s through racial manipulation.

  • No wind, no waves.

  • Ebonydiva82

    I’m sad to hear about this statistic: it seems as though the rates of HIV/AIDS infection among us (black women) is getting worse. There needs to be more than information given to us: we need to make a conscious choice to research the men/partners we choose to have sex with and not to feel bad about it as our lives are at risk. Trust is not enough as it is what continues to allow this disease to flourish. People lie about their status and they lie about the number of people they have slept with. They will say anything they need to to get into someone’s pants. Get rid of trust and do some serious research as having this disease will most likely affect a woman’s choice in a future partner.  We, black women, have to accept the FACT that no one gives a damn about us more than we do and that everyone is looking out for themselves. Having sex with a man will not keep him as no woman on this planet as magical kitties do not exist. It is up to us to make this change.

  • Stans4Forreals

    If sistas HIV numbers r growing like this then the black males numbers must be off the charts. U don’t even hear of their stars cuz they aren’t even getting tested unless they’re gay.. It’s time to start wrapping up no questions asked for both black men & women…

    • Kennethale

      Its harder for a man to give Aids verses a woman giving it! thats why

      • shirly

        What you’ve said is false Kennethale. What is your reasoning behind that statement? HIV is transferred via exchange of bodily fluids from sex, sharing needles, etc. I think the best tool against fighting HIV is education! Yes, we need intervention and help from the CDC. Why isn’t there more news about this?

      • Omowale

        KENNETHALE that is NOT TRUE AT ALL!!! The AIDS epidemic started in the gay community with gay men spreading the disease to each other. The reason black women are catching it at such alarming rates now is because undercover gay brothers spreading it to them. Also, there are a lot of bi/undercover guys who will use protection when they have sex with other men, but won’t use it when they have sex with women.

        • JJ truth

          Well if black people specifically black women are supposedly practicing the gay lifestyle in record numbers how can dykes be infected with AIDS/HIV? Any stat that doesn’t include white women in promiscuity is false. Those women get around & the cheat too much as well as they are having sex with down low white males & others. These reports are brainwashing. I’m not buying it. Everyone is going to die one day anyway. Most blacks are dropping dead from high blood pressure, heart disease & diabetes. So time will tell the truth. Most black should be dying of AIDS/HIV right now if these stats were true. Frankly I don’t give a damn anymore. Tired of fabricated lies.

      • JJ truth

        Aids/Hiv is transmitted from males who are the carriers. All of this so-called black hiv halocaust is b.s. I have over 122 black females in my extended family and 97 males and no one has AID/HIV. Nobody I know has it. Yet according to stats 8 out of 10 blacks are supposedly infected. This is more race based b.s to get blacks into the experiment labs as guinea pigs. No thanks. Most blacks are injecting drugs and most black children aren’t born AIDS/HIV infected. The blacks who have AIDS/HIV are NOT the majority.

  • Orangestar616

    Know folks before sleeping with them, their HIV status and true sexual orientation or just remain abstinent. If you do engage in sexual activity make sure you get tested and see results together and make a committment to stay healthy and monogomous and if you cannot have that level of committment, just be abstinent.

    • chaka1

       If you read between the lines, they are focusing on women who live in very impoverished conditions or they are substance abusers. Many of them are sharing needles or they are having unprotected sex with unsavory men. You will find that many of them are searching for love and have little to no self-esteem so they open themselves to drugs and disease.

  • Kellz

    That moment of instant gratification is not worth a count down to the end of your life. Women especially black women should not participate in having unprotected sex outside of marraige. Make him wrap it up.

    • Melique

      HIV can be transmitted within marriage as well, so that advice
      extends to married women whose husbands may be engaging in extra-marital sex. Being
      married does not eliminate risk, only abstinence and mutual monogamy between
      two HIV negative partners; married or unmarried.