The disparity in the rate of new HIV transmissions between Black and white women is so great that if Black women had the same lower acquisition rate as their white counterparts, there would be 4,000 fewer new cases of the virus among them each year. That figure represents a bit more than 10% of all new infections in the United States.
Publishing their findings in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers analyzed data regarding the estimated new HIV transmissions among Black and white women between 2010 and 2016.
The CDC recently released new estimates about the overall estimated HIV transmission rate during this period. The agency estimated that the United States saw a modest decline of 5% in this rate between 2010 and 2013, but that progress stalled between 2013 and 2016. In 2016, an estimated 38,700 people contracted the virus.
In 2010, an estimated 5,300 Black women and 1,400 white women contracted HIV. This translated to an infection rate per 100,000 people of 32.5 infections among Black women and 1.6 infections among white women, or a 20-fold disparity.
Estimated new infections declined steadily between 2010 and 2014 among Black women, hitting 4,000 new cases in the latter year. But then, estimated new infections rose slightly to 4,100 in 2015 and 4,200 in 2016, for a final rate of 24.4 new cases per 100,000 Black women. This meant that the HIV rate declined by 21% among Black women during the study period.
Meanwhile, the estimated new HIV acquisition rate remained essentially stable among white women between 2010 and 2016. During the latter year, Black women’s HIV rate was 15 times higher than white women’s.
The CDC researchers calculated that if Black women shared white women’s lower HIV rate in 2010, the number of new cases among African-American women would be 75% lower. The disparity in the two groups’ HIV rate declined by 7% during the study period. Consequently, if Black women had the same rate of new infections as white women in 2016, 4,200 cases, or 93% of the transmissions among Black women, would have been averted.
“Reducing racial disparities among women is needed to achieve broader HIV control goals,” the study authors concluded. “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.”
To read the CDC report, click here.