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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys or disables the cells that are responsible for fighting infection. AIDS is diagnosed when HIV has weakened the immune system enough that the body has difficulty fighting infections.1 HIV is predominantly transmitted through sexual contact and injection drug use. While HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect men who have sex with men, an increasing proportion of HIV/AIDS diagnoses occur among women and particularly minority women. In 2009, adolescent and adult females accounted for about one-fourth of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses, up from 7 percent in 1985.2 The rate of new HIV diagnoses was 32.7 per 100,000 males and 9.8 cases per 100,000 females aged 13 and older in 2009.

Rates of new cases among adolescent and adult females vary dramatically by race and ethnicity. HIV disproportionately affects non-Hispanic Black females at a rate that was nearly twenty times higher than among non-Hispanic White females (47.8 versus 2.4 cases per 100,000 females). In 2009, new HIV diagnoses were also elevated among females of every minority group, but especially Hispanic, non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic females of multiple races (11.9, 13.3, and 13.4 cases per 100,000 females, respectively).

Early detection of HIV infection is critical in preventing transmission of the virus to others, and persons aware of their HIV infection can benefit from advances in medicine that may significantly prolong their lives. Early entry to care can also produce significant cost savings for medical treatment.3 Despite these individual and societal benefits, a large proportion of people identified as HIV-positive receive an AIDS diagnosis simultaneously or within a year of HIV diagnosis. In 2008, 31 percent of HIV-positive females of all ages received an AIDS diagnosis within 12 months of their HIV diagnosis, which was slightly less than among males (34 percent). Women and younger persons tend to receive earlier diagnoses perhaps due, in part, to more frequent testing opportunities (e.g. routine reproductive health visits) and greater risk awareness.4

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS Basic Information. August 2010. Accessed 03/24/11.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance in Women. October 2010. Accessed 03/24/11.
3 Fleishman JA, Yehia BR, Moore RD, Gebo KA. The Economic Burden of Late Entry Into Medical Care for Patients with HIV Infection. Medical Care. 2010; 48: 1071-1079.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Late HIV Testing – 34 States, 1996-2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review. 2009;58(24):661-665.



Estimated Rates of New HIV Cases Reported Among Females Aged 13 and Older,* by Race/Ethnicity, 2009

Rate per 100,000 Population

  • Total: 9.8
  • Non-Hispanic White: 2.4
  • Non-Hispanic Black: 47.8
  • Hispanic: 11.9
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native: 6.6
  • Non-Hispanic Asian: 3.4
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 13.3
  • Non-Hispanic Multiple Race: 13.4

*Data collected from 40 states with confidential name-based reporting.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2009; vol 21. Feb 2011. Accessed 03/24/11.

Time to an AIDS Diagnosis After a Diagnosis of HIV Infection, by Sex, 2008
Time to an AIDS Diagnosis Percent of Adults
Female Male
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2009; vol 21. Feb 2011. Accessed 03/24/11.
12 Months or More 69.0 66.0
Less than 12 Months 31.0 34.0

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