Impact on Racial and Ethnic Minorities
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, compared to 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 as well as their HIV-related outcomes.
Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial/ethnic groups. For example, according to CDC, in 2021, Black/African American individuals aged 13 and older represented approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 40% of people with HIV. Hispanic/Latino persons aged 13 and older represented 18% of the population but accounted for 25% 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), showing that effective prevention and treatment are not adequately reaching people who could benefit most.
Certain subpopulations within racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately 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 United States. According to CDC, they accounted for 70% of the 32,100 estimated new infections in 2021, even though they made up only 2% of the population, with the highest burden among Black and Latino gay and bisexual men. Also, in 2021, 25% of new HIV infections were among Black gay and bisexual men, 22% among Latino gay and bisexual men, and 44% among gay and bisexual men under the age of 35.
Among women, disparities also exist. Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to women of other races/ethnicities. Although annual HIV infections remained stable overall among Black women from 2017 to 2021, the rate of new HIV infections among Black women is 10 times that of white women and four times that of Latina women.
Further, over 1 million people identify as transgender in the United States. In 2021, adult and adolescent transgender people and people of additional gender identity were 2.5% (912) of new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. Most of those new HIV diagnoses were among Black/African American transgender women.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Priority Populations
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (2022-2025) is the nation’s roadmap for ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2030. It recognizes racism as a serious public health threat that drives and affects both HIV outcomes and disparities. The Strategy highlights that while HIV remains a threat in every part of the United States, certain populations bear most of the burden, signaling where our HIV prevention, care, and treatment efforts must be focused. It therefore designates five priority populations:
- gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, in particular, Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native men
- Black women
- transgender women
- youth aged 13-24 years
- people who inject drugs.
The Strategy also set out targets for increasing to 95% the proportion of people with HIV in each of these priority populations who have a suppressed viral load. Learn more: View NHAS-at-a-Glance.
The NHAS Federal Implementation Plan also outlines federal agencies’ commitments to programs, policies, research, and activities designed to reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities.
For in-depth information about the impact of HIV on different racial and ethnic populations, see these CDC fact sheets:
- HIV and African American People
- HIV and Hispanic/Latino People
- HIV in the United States by Race/Ethnicity
- HIV and African American Gay and Bisexual Men
- HIV and Hispanic/Latino Gay and Bisexual Men
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations
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 with HIV who are uninsured and underserved. The program serves more than half a million clients each year, which is over 50 percent of people with diagnosed HIV in the United States.
Nearly three-quarters of RWHAP clients are from racial and ethnic minority populations. The percentage distribution of client populations by race/ethnicity has remained consistent since 2016. In 2022, approximately 44.5% of clients self-identified as Black/African American, 25.8% as White, 25.3% as Hispanic/Latino, and less than 2% each as American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and people of multiple races. Further, in 2022, nearly 90% of RWHAP clients receiving HIV medical care were virally suppressed, exceeding the national viral suppression average of 66% among all people with diagnosed HIV. This is a critical component of ending the HIV epidemic because people with HIV who take HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.
To learn more about HIV care outcomes for racial and ethnic minority clients and others served by the RWHAP program, view the RWHAP 2022 Annual Client-Level Data Report and the population-specific factsheets about clients served by the program.
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.