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HIV’s Impact on Women

Approximately 25% of people living with HIV in the United States are women. This number has more than tripled since 1985, when women made up 7% of people living with HIV/AIDS. About 80% of women living with HIV contracted it through sex with an HIV-positive man (AIDS Infonet). Cultural and physiological factors place women at high risk for contracting HIV and barriers make it difficult for women who are HIV positive to stay in care.

"Although much of the discussion of HIV disease risk focuses on individual “high-risk” behaviors—for example, multiple sex partners or drug use, many women acquire HIV as a result not of their individual behaviors but of their sexual partner's behaviors and of their membership in a social network where HIV infection is common among potential sexual partners. This is particularly true for black women, because the prevalence of HIV in black men has increased to as high as 6% in some urban areas. The high prevalence of HIV among black men results in increased HIV transmission risk for black women whether or not they engage in high-risk behaviors; that is, simply starting a new monogamous relationship puts black women at substantial risk of encountering HIV." - (Mariam Aziz and Kimberly Y. Smith, 2011)