Reductions in HIV Diagnoses Among African American Women: A Search for Explanations

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African American women experienced a 46% reduction in the rate of HIV diagnoses from 56.0 in 2008, to 30.0 in 2014 (per 100,000). The reasons for this decrease are unknown; however, we hypothesize that improvements in socioeconomic status, health care access, and risk behaviors may have contributed to this reduction.


We analyzed data from 2006, 2010, and 2013 of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system. African American women living at or below poverty were surveyed from 19 United States cities using respondent-driven and venue-based sampling, and tested for HIV infection. We used generalized estimating equations to determine differences for selected outcomes regarding health care and risk behaviors over time.


Among 11,065 women, we found increases in the percentage of women who reported having a recent HIV test (P value = 0.0002); having health insurance (P < 0.0001); and recently visiting a health care provider (P < 0.0001). Being unemployed declined significantly (P = 0.0057), as did reporting recent injection drug use (P < 0.0001). Crack use declined among women aged 25–44 years (P < 0.0001). However, reporting condomless vaginal sex at last sex (P = 0.0268), condomless anal sex at last sex (P = 0.6462), or 3 or more sex partners in the past 12 months (P = 0.5449) remained stable.


Enhanced health care access and socioeconomic status and reductions in drug use may have contributed to the declines in HIV diagnoses among African American women in the United States.

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