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Sexual Health For Heterosexual Women

Fast Facts

  • Around 1 in 4 people living with HIV in the United States are women.
  • Most new HIV diagnoses in women are attributed to heterosexual sex.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses among women declined 40%.

Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other races/ethnicities. Of the total estimated number of women living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2013, 61% (137,504) were African American, 17% (39,177) were white, and 17% (38,664) were Hispanics/Latinas.
The Numbers: HIV and AIDS Diagnoses

 • Women made up 19% (8,328) of the estimated 44,073 new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2014. Of these, 87% (7,242) were attributed to heterosexual sex,e and 13% (1,045) were attributed to injection drug use.
• Among all women diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 62% (5,128) were African American, 18% (1,483) were white, and 16% (1,350) were Hispanic/Latina.
• New HIV diagnoses declined 40% among women from 2005 to 2014. They declined 42% among African American women, 35% among Latina women, and 30% among white women.
• Women accounted for 25% (5,168) of the estimated 20,792 AIDS diagnoses among adults and adolescents in 2014 and represent 20% (246,372) of the estimated 1,210,835 cumulative AIDS diagnoses in the United States from the beginning of the epidemic through the end of 2014.
Living With HIV and Deaths

  • An estimated 284,500 women were living with HIV at the end of 2012, representing 23% of all Americans living with the virus. Of women living with HIV, around 11% do not know they are infected.
  • Of women diagnosed with HIV in 2013, 84% were linked to HIV medical care within 3 months. But only 55% of women living with HIV were retained in care (receiving continuous HIV medical care).f Only 39% of women living with HIV at the end of 2012 were prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART), the medicines used to treat HIV, and only 30% had achieved viral suppression.
  • An estimated 1,859 women died from HIV or AIDS during 2013.
Prevention Challenges

  • The greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African American and Hispanic/Latino communities and the fact that people tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity mean that women from these communities face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.
  • Some women may be unaware of their male partner’s risk factors for HIV (such as injection drug use or having sex with men) and may not use condoms.
  • Assuming no prevention methods (such as condoms or medicines to prevent HIV) are used, the risk of getting HIV during vaginal sex is higher for women than it is for men. Anal sex is riskier for getting HIV than vaginal sex, and the risk is much greater for the receptive partner than for the insertive partner in anal sex. In a behavioral survey of heterosexual women at increased risk of HIV infection, 25% of HIV-negative women reported having anal sex without a condom in the previous year.
  • Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, greatly increase the likelihood of getting or spreading HIV.
  • Women who have been sexually abused may be more likely than women with no abuse history to engage in sexual behaviors like exchanging sex for drugs, having multiple partners, or having sex without a condom.

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