amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Women and HIV

Updated NOVEMBER 2009

In the United States

  • Women account for more than one in four new HIV/AIDS diagnoses and deaths caused by AIDS.
  • The proportion of AIDS diagnoses among women has more than tripled since 1985.
  • 71 percent of women diagnosed with AIDS in 2005 contracted the disease through heterosexual sex.
  • African Americans constituted 66 pecent of women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2005.
  • In 2005, girls represented 43 percent of AIDS cases reported among people aged 13 to 19.
  • African Americans and Hispanics represent 24 percent of all women in the U.S. but they account for 82 percent of AIDS cases among women.
  • African-American women are 23 times more likely to have AIDS than white women.
  • AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women aged 25 to 34.

Around the Globe

  • Worldwide, women constitute half of all people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • For women in their reproductive years (15–44), HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death and disease worldwide.
  • In every region of the world, more adult women (15 years or older) than ever before are now living with HIV.
  • Women are at least twice as likely to acquire HIV from men during sexual intercourse than vice versa.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, less than half (45 percent) of pregnant women living with HIV in 2008 received medication to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, up from 10 percent in 2004.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute 59 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS. Among young people aged 15-24, the HIV prevalence rate for women is almost three times that among men.

Sources: UNAIDS Epidemic Update, Dec. 2007; UNAIDS, Report on the global AIDS epidemic, 2008; Kaiser Family Foundation; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008; World Health Organization, 2009.