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HIV/AIDS 101: About the Disease and Statistics

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One of the first steps in the fight against HIV/AIDS is education and awareness.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and it’s the virus that can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). It enters the body and infects immune system cells, as well as other cells in the body — causing more copies of the virus to be produced. A person who has been infected with HIV is HIV-positive, but does not necessarily have AIDS.

There are many myths about how HIV is spread. You can’t acquire HIV by drinking from a water fountain, sitting on a toilet seat, hugging or touching someone who has HIV, or by eating off plates and utensils. However, here are some ways HIV can be transmitted:

  • By way of bodily fluids (blood, semen, and vaginal secretions) during sexual contact. Saliva is not considered a transmission route for HIV.
  • By sharing needles to inject drugs. Infected blood can be exchanged between the parties who are using the same needle and syringe.
  • Through the transfusion of infected blood or blood products
  • HIV-infected woman can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, during delivery, or while breast-feeding if she isn’t getting treatment.

Below are some key statistics about how HIV/AIDS affects us and those around us.

HIV/AIDS in the United States:

  • There are currently 1.1 million adults and adolescents in the United States living with HIV.
  • Approximately 1 in 6 people (15.8%) who are infected with HIV do not know that they have been infected.
  • Since 2008, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in the United States has remained constant around 50,000 per year.
  • New HIV diagnosis was highest among individuals aged 25–34 years (31%), followed by individuals aged 13-24 years (26%)
  • Top ten states with the highest rates HIV/AIDS diagnosis are California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Women and HIV/AIDS

  • 1 in 139 women will be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at some point within their life.
  • Every 47 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the U.S.
  • High-risk heterosexual contact is the source of 80% of these newly diagnosed infections in women in the US.
  • From the beginning of the epidemic through 2005, almost 86,000 women have died of AIDS and AIDS-related complications.
  • The largest number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses during recent years was for women aged 15–39.
  • Seven of the 10 states with the highest case rates among women are in the South.

Minority Women and HIV/AIDS

  • HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects minority women in the United States. According to the 2005 census, Black and Latina women represent 24% of all US women combined, but accounted for 82% of the estimated total of AIDS diagnoses for women in 2005.
  • HIV is the leading cause of death for Black women (including Black women) aged 25–34 years. The only diseases causing more deaths of women are cancer and heart disease.
  • The rate of AIDS diagnosis for Black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women.
  • Teen girls represent 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds; Latino teens represented 19%.

Youth and HIV/AIDS

  • A quarter of new HIV infections are amongst 13-24 year olds.
  • Half of young people who are infected with HIV do not know.
  • There are 34,000 young people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States
  • There are 1,000 new HIV cases among youth every month
  • Youths accounted for 25% (12,200) of new HIV infections in 2010. Of these, 57% were among blacks/African Americans, 20% among Hispanics/Latinos, and 20% among whites;
  • 72% of new infections among youths were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact
  • African-American young adults are disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 57% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 13-24 year olds.

These are statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Estimated HIV incidence in the United States, 2007– 2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(No. 4). Published December 2012. 

Learn More at:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services AIDS Homepage
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Greater Than AIDS
MTV’s Get Yourself Tested
Black AIDS Institute
National Minority AIDS Council
Living Quilt
The Body
Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS