What Is the Impact of HIV on Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the U.S.?
HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, age, or where they live. However, in the United States, some racial/ethnic groups are more affected than others, given their percentage of the population. This is because some population groups have higher rates of HIV in their communities, thus raising the risk of new infections with each sexual or injection drug use encounter. Additionally, a range of social, economic, and demographic factors such as stigma, discrimination, income, education, and geographic region can affect people’s risk for HIV.
Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial/ethnic groups. For example, in 2018 Blacks/African Americans represented 13% of the US population, but 41% of people with HIV. Hispanics/Latinos represented 18% of the population, but 23% of people with HIV.
The disproportionate impact of HIV on Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities is also evident in incidence (new HIV infections).
Certain subpopulations within racial and ethnic minority groups are affected as well. For example, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are by far the most affected group in the US. They account for about 70% of new infections each year, even though they make up only 2% of the population.
According to CDC, in 2018:
- Black/African American MSM accounted for 26% of new HIV infections;
- Hispanic/Latino MSM accounted for 22% of new HIV infections; and
- Gay and bisexual men under the age of 35 (of all races/ethnicities) accounted for 46% of new HIV infections.
Among women, disparities also exist. Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV as compared to women of other races/ethnicities. Although annual HIV infections remained stable among Black women from 2014 to 2018, the rate of new HIV infections among Black women is 13 times that of white women and four times that of Latina women.
For in-depth information about the impact of HIV on different racial and ethnic populations, see these CDC fact sheets:
Risk by race/ethnicity
- HIV and African Americans
- HIV and American Indians and Alaska Natives
- HIV and Asians
- HIV and Hispanics/Latinos
- HIV and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders
Risk by sexual orientation
What Should I Do If I Think I’m At Risk for HIV?
If you think you’re at risk for getting HIV, or that you might already have HIV, get tested and learn about the effective HIV prevention and treatment options available today.
Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. Find out whether testing is recommended for you.
Many HIV tests are now quick, free, and painless. Ask your health care provider for an HIV test or use the HIV Services Locator to find a testing site near you. You can also buy an FDA-approved home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help you take steps to keep you and your partner(s) healthy:
- If you test positive, you can start HIV treatment to stay healthy and prevent transmitting HIV to others.
- If you test negative, you can use HIV prevention tools to reduce your risk of getting HIV in the future.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations
Many federal programs are available to assist people of color who are living with HIV. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) provides a comprehensive system of HIV primary medical care, medications, and essential support services for low-income people living with HIV who are uninsured and underserved. More than half the people diagnoses with HIV in the U.S. receive services through RWHAP each year.
The Program serves a diverse population. Of the more than half a million clients served by RWHAP, nearly three-quarters of them are from racial and ethnic minority populations, with 47.1 percent of clients identifying as black/African American and 23.2 percent identifying as Hispanic/Latino.
For information about HIV care outcomes for racial and ethnic clients and other served by the RWHAP program, see these fact sheets:
RWHAP clients by race/ethnicity
- Hispanic/Latino Clients: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 2018
- Black/African American Clients: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 2018
- American Indian/Alaska Native Clients: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 2018
- Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Clients: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 2018
Minority HIV/AIDS Fund
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Minority HIV/AIDS Fund is transforming HIV prevention, care, and treatment for communities of color by bringing federal, state, and community organizations together to design and test innovative solutions that address critical emerging needs and by working to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of federal investments in HIV programs and services for racial and ethnic minorities.
The Fund improves our national response to HIV in multiple ways, including through support for Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, a federal initiative designed to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75 percent over five years and 90 percent by 2030.
Read more about the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund