HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender or age. However, certain groups are at higher risk for HIV and merit special consideration because of particular risk factors.
Is the Risk of HIV Different for Different People?
Some groups of people in the United States are more likely to get HIV than others because of many factors, including the status of their sex partners, their risk behaviors, and where they live.
When you live in a community where many people have HIV infection, the chances of having sex or sharing needles or other injection equipment with someone who has HIV are higher. You can use CDC’s HIV, STD, hepatitis, and tuberculosis Atlas Plus to see the percentage of people with HIV (“prevalence”) in different US communities. Within any community, the prevalence of HIV can vary among different populations.
Gay and bisexual men have the largest number of new diagnoses in the United States. Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Also, transgender women who have sex with men are among the groups at highest risk for HIV infection, and injection drug users remain at significant risk for getting HIV.
Risky behaviors, like having anal or vaginal sex without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV, and sharing needles or syringes play a big role in HIV transmission. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. If you don’t have HIV, being a receptive partner (or bottom) for anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for getting HIV. If you do have HIV, being the insertive partner (or top) for anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for transmitting HIV.
But there are more tools available today to prevent HIV than ever before. Choosing less risky sexual behaviors, taking medicines to prevent and treat HIV, and using condoms with lubricants are all highly effective ways to reduce the risk of getting or transmitting HIV. Learn more about these and other strategies to prevent HIV.
Learn More About Groups at Risk for HIV
For more information about the risk for different groups of people, see U.S. Statistics, Impact on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, and CDC’s HIV by Geographical Distribution. For more information about groups at risk for HIV, visit CDC’s Groups at Risk page.
Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).