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12 HIV Statistics That Will Alter Your Perception Of The Condition

In the last 10 years, new HIV diagnosis rates have declined, but the virus still infects tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S.
In the last 10 years, new HIV diagnosis rates have declined, but the virus still infects tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S.

In the last 10 years, new HIV diagnosis rates have declined, but the virus still infects tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S.

Certain ideas probably come to mind when you hear the word HIV — like what groups of people are most impacted and how it’s spread.

But, due to stigma, a lot of what we assume about the condition is actually wrong. In fact, there are data and statistics that may completely change how you think about HIV.

Below, experts share some facts many people don’t know:

1. There were 36,000 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. in 2021.

In the last 10 years, new HIV diagnosis rates have declined, but the virus still infects tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S.

In 2021, 36,000 people were diagnosed with HIV, according to Dr. Toyin Nwafor, an infectious diseases physician and the senior medical director of HIV Prevention at ViiV Healthcare.

2. Sixty percent of these new diagnoses occur in people age 13 to 34.

Young people in the U.S. are a group that is highly impacted by new HIV infections. People age 13 to 34 accounted for more than half of the 36,000 new infections in 2021, according to Nwafor.

3. And half of these new HIV infections occur in the South.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that while 51% of new HIV infections happened in the Southern states, only 38% of the U.S. population lives in this region.

4. An estimated 18% to 20% of new HIV infections are in cisgender women.

“That’s 1 in 5,” Nwafor said. “And that’s something that I think a lot of people don’t really pay attention to or are aware of.”

5. About 40% of new infections in the U.S. are in Black people.

“New HIV diagnoses really, really disproportionately impact people of color,” Nwafor explained.

Black people make up 12% of the population in the U.S., but make up 40% of cases — which showcases just how severe this disparity is.

6. 30% of new infections are in Latinx people in the U.S.

Latinx people are another group that’s living with HIV at alarmingly high rates.

While Latinx people make up about 18% of the population, they account for 30% of new HIV infections, according to Nwafor.

Making up 40% of new infections, Black people are disproportionately impacted by HIV.
Making up 40% of new infections, Black people are disproportionately impacted by HIV.

Making up 40% of new infections, Black people are disproportionately impacted by HIV.

7. And 50% of new infections in women are in Black women and 20% are in Latinx women.

According to Nwafor, 7 out of 10 new infections in women are in women of color — specifically, as mentioned above, 50% of new infections are in Black women and 20% are in Latino women.

“Black and Latino individuals are more disproportionately impacted,” Nwafor said.

8. 70% of new infections in the U.S. in 2021 were in men who have sex with men.

While many groups — like Black people, Latino people and people living in the South — are disproportionately impacted by HIV, within the U.S., men who have sex with men are the group that is most likely to be living with HIV.

9. Worldwide, about 52% of people living with HIV are women or girls.

According to Dr. Shivanjali Shankaran, an infectious disease physician who specializes in HIV at RUSH University Medical Group in Chicago, roughly 52% of people living with HIV in the world are women or adolescent girls.

This is hugely different from what we see in the U.S. where, as mentioned above, men who have sex with men are the most impacted.

10. PrEP reduces your risk of contracting HIV sexually by 99% and 74% for transmission via injection drug use.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a life-saving medication that decreases your risk of contracting HIV sexually and through injection drug use.

Stigma is a huge barrier that keeps people from taking the medication — or from even knowing about the medication.

11. Just 30% of people who should be on PrEP are on it.

“Not enough people are on PrEP that should be on PrEP. The estimate is something like only 30% of the people who should be on PrEP, are on PrEP,” Shankaran said. This number is as of 2021, according to the CDC.

12. 7% of PrEP users are women.

Women are on PrEP at an even lower percentage, according to Shankaran, at just 7%.

Testing is a crucial way to stop the spread of HIV.

HIV testing is important, Nwafor said. And even if you don’t fall into any of the groups mentioned above, it’s still important to know your status.

“Having an HIV test is an empowering decision that allows you, if you are HIV uninfected, to talk about other ways to stay HIV uninfected ... and if you’re somebody that is living with HIV, to get connected to care so you can get your virus suppressed and live a healthy life without the risk of transmission once you’re undetectable,” Nwafor said, adding that consistently taking medication if you live with HIV will help you remain undetectable.

There are medications available that can allow people living with HIV to live long, healthy lives. “HIV is not a death sentence with all the therapies that we have available,” Nwafor said.