HIV PREVENTION & YOU: LESBIAN & BI-SEXUAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is primarily transmitted through blood, semen, anal fluids, and vaginal fluids via unprotected sex or sharing injecting equipment. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is not a single disease. It is a spectrum of conditions that occur when a person’s immune system is seriously compromised after years of attack by HIV. The terms HIV and AIDS are not interchangeable. It is important to remember that a person who is infected with HIV does not necessarily have AIDS. However, all people with AIDS have HIV.

WSW & HIV RISK

WSW are women who have, or have had, sex with women who may or may not self-identify as lesbian or bi-sexual. Many WSW had their first sexual experience with a man, have had multiple experiences with men, or still have sex with men.

Lesbians and bisexual women, like their heterosexual counterparts, engage in at-risk sexual and social behaviors that place them at high risk, including but not limited to: unprotected sex with men, an increased number of sexual partners, the use of injection drugs, and exposure to fluids known to transmit HIV (i.e. menstrual blood and vaginal secretions).

While lesbians and WSW are at relatively low risk of HIV infection, lesbian sex is not risk-free.  It is important to note that WSW are at an increased risk for HIV when they believe that they are part of a low-risk population due to their sexual identity. This false sense of immunity or protection masks the risks that WSW face.

While there are no confirmed cases of female-to-female transmission, many self-identified lesbians are living with HIV. Many people wonder how lesbians contract HIV and AIDS. Research shows that women who have sex with women are at an elevated risk for contracting HIV if they engage in high-risk activities.:

  • Believe that they are at no risk for contracting HIV
  • Engage in sex with women through unprotected fingering/fisting, oral sex and sharing sex toys
  • Engage in injection-drug use
  • Engage in sex with bisexual men, gay men, and injection-drug users
  • Engage in sexual activity with heterosexual men

Get more in-depth educational information about HIV & AIDS by clicking HERE.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN & HIV RATES

HIV and AIDS Diagnoses (2015)

African-American women are disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other races/ethnicities.

  • Women made up 19% (7,402) of the 39,513 new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2015.
  • Overall, 86% (6,391) of HIV diagnoses among women were attributed to heterosexual sex,e and 13% (980) were attributed to injection drug use. But among white women, 32% of HIV diagnoses were attributed to injection drug use.
  • Among all women with HIV diagnosed in 2015, 61% (4,524) were African American, 19% (1,431) were white, and 15% (1,131) were Hispanic/Latina.
  • Annual HIV diagnoses declined 20% among women from 2010 to 2014. They declined 24% among African American women, 16% among Hispanic/Latina women, and 9% among white women.
  • Women accounted for 24% (4,459) of the 18,303 AIDS diagnoses in 2015 and represent 20% (248,270) of the 1,216,917 cumulative AIDS diagnoses in the United States from the beginning of the epidemic through the end of 2015.

TALK. PROTECT. TEST. TREAT.

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