Author: Rebecca Sutton, Guest Blogger
When HIV/AIDS emerged as a public health crisis in the early 1980s, it was widely believed that the disease exclusively affected gay white men. Now, more than three decades later, nearly everything we understand about HIV – from how to treat the disease and those afflicted, to the populations impacted by the disease – has changed dramatically.
The most dramatic shift in HIV infection is demographic. In the United States today, roughly a quarter of all people living with HIV are women. As with many medical conditions, HIV affects women differently than men. Women with HIV present their own unique symptoms and face unique challenges such as childbirth. Women can even experience side effects to treatment that men do not share.
Further, while treatments have improved over time, there is still no cure for HIV. Once a death sentence, HIV has evolved into a chronic condition – with long term physical, emotional and societal impacts.
The looming specter of HIV as a public health crisis may have diminished over time. HIV may have become a forgotten disease. But it is not forgotten by the women and families in our communities now living and dealing with the many consequences of HIV.
LSS/NCA continues to proudly and boldly serve youth and their families who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Healthy moms mean healthy kids, so we consider parental support a critical aspect of our Youth Haven program. We help families come to grips with HIV, shedding the stigma associated with the disease while fostering understanding within families to forge stronger bonds between parents and children.
The first and most important step to managing any health condition is to stay informed, which is why we’ve put together statistics concerning women and HIV. The numbers may surprise you, but the need shouldn’t. Women and families living with HIV need your help. Please visit our resources page for a full range of HIV/AIDS support services in the Washington, DC, area.
WOMEN AND HIV BY THE NUMBERS
In the United States…
25% of people living with HIV are women.
19% of all newly diagnosed HIV infections in 1994 occurred in women.
40% decrease in new HIV infections among women between 2005 and 2014. At the same time, the overall rate of infection has declined as well.
61% of women living with HIV in 2013 were African-American, while African-American women accounted for only 13% of the female population in the U.S. at the time.
13% of women living with HIV in 2013 were white.
17% were Hispanic/Latina.
87% of women diagnosed with HIV in 2014 contracted the disease through heterosexual sex.
13% contracted HIV through injection drug use
45% of women living with HIV DO NOT receive continuous medical treatment for their disease
61% of women living with HIV DO NOT take antiretroviral therapy (ART), currently the most effective way to suppress HIV
For comparison’s sake…in Washington, DC…
One in Four people living with HIV is a woman
21.8% of new HIV cases in 2015 were women
94% of women living with HIV are African-American
3.2% are Hispanic/Latina
1.5% are white
Zero babies have been born with HIV since 2012, underscoring the impact of HIV outreach and access to care for women.