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Age and Race Impact Women’s HIV Risk

By Denise DeWitt HERWriter
 
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Any woman of any age or race can get HIV. But based on statistics, some women are at higher risk of contracting the disease. HIV is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus.

This virus works by attacking cells in the immune system, leaving the infected person open to other serious and potentially fatal infections. HIV is also the infection that leads to AIDS.

These numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the risk of being infected with HIV for women of different races:

• 1 in 32 black women
• 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latina women
• 1 in 182 Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women
• 1 in 217 American Indian and Alaskan Native women
• 1 in 526 white and Asian women

From 2000 to 2007, HIV infection was one of the top causes of death for black females ages 10 to 54 and Hispanic women ages 15 to 54. In 2009, there were an estimated 11,200 new HIV infections diagnosed in women. This amounts to 23 percent of total HIV diagnoses.

That same year, the number of newly diagnosed black women was 15 times higher than white women and 3 times higher than Hispanic and Latina women. (CDC)

Women can get HIV at any age, but young women are more likely to have HIV than middle-aged women. The CDC also estimates that more than half of women aged 13 to 24 who have HIV have not been diagnosed. (Women’s Health.gov)

Young women may be at increased risk for a number of reasons including:

Reproductive system – Young women who are sexually active are at higher risk for HIV because their reproductive systems are still relatively immature, which may make them more receptive to HIV.
Lack of knowledge – Some young women may be unaware of the risks of HIV. Women in this age group may also be less likely to know their partner’s history including whether the partner has had unprotected sex or has injected drugs.
Power – Young women may have less power or control over their own relationships. They may also have a harder time than older women convincing their partners to use a condom.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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