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Black Women HIV Rates Decline, But Is It Progress?


Black females remain the women most affected by HIV, but the latest data shows things may be shifting.

Unfortunately, Black and brown women continue to be the hardest hit female demographic in terms of new HIV diagnoses.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed that Black women accounted for 60 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in women in the United States — despite the fact that they only make up 13 percent of the population.

However, not all of the newly released data was discouraging: between 2010 and 2016, new HIV diagnoses among women and adolescent girls fell overall.

This decline was largely driven by a 21 percent decline in new HIV cases among Black women and adolescent girls. New diagnoses among white women and adolescent girls remained roughly the same during this period.

Just as with Black gay men of color, the higher rates among Black women are reflective of the impact of broader socio-economic disparities, and the compounding impact of dating within the African-American community, which is itself disproportionately impacted by HIV.

“Reducing racial disparities among women is needed to achieve broader HIV control goals,” investigators concluded in the report. “Addressing social and structural determinants of health and applying tailored strategies to reduce HIV incidence in Black women and their partners are important elements to achieving health equity.”

Thurka Sangaramoorthy is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland.

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Thurka Sangaramoorthy