CDC Report Reveals Racial Disparities Among Black, White Women with HIV

Author: Jennifer Nessel, Assistant Editor

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report recently employed a population attributable proportion analysis (PAP) and found that racial disparities between black and white women still persist, despite a decline in HIV infections from 2010 to 2016.
According to the report, the rate of incident HIV infections among adolescent women declined from 2010 to 2016, with the largest decrease (21%) among black women. However, in 2016, 60% of new HIV infections among women were in black women.
Using a PAP disparity measure, which included HIV incidence and prevalence estimates for adolescent women above 13 years of age, the CDC described the proportional decrease in HIV infection in black and white women combined if the higher rate group (black women) was the same rate as the group with the lower rate (white women).
This report revealed that in 2016, an estimated 3900 of 4200 or 93% incident HIV infections among black women would not have occurred if the incidence for black women were the same as that for white women.
The PAP disparity measure decreased from (0.75) in 2010 to (0.70) in 2016, suggesting that if incidence rates for black women were the same as those for white women, the annual number of incident HIV infections among black and white women would have been 75% lower in 2010 and 70% lower in 2016.
The report discussed how the declining rates of HIV incident infections should signal progress toward reducing racial disparities among women. However, these notable black-white disparities among women persist.
Suggested in the report is the need for tailored strategies to reduce disparities in incidence that focus on social and structural determinants, such as inequitable access to health care, HIV-related stigma and comparatively high background prevalence of certain sexually transmitted infections that increase the risk for HIV infection among black women.
The report also points out that, since most HIV infections among black women occur through heterosexual transmission, there should be strategies in place that effectively engage heterosexual and bisexual men.
Reducing racial disparities among women is greatly needed to achieve broader HIV control goals, the report authors concluded. Addressing social and structural determinants of health and applying tailored strategies to reduce HIV incidence in black women and their partners are important elements to achieving health equity.
For more information on this report, please visit the CDC website.
Bradley EP, Williams AM, Green S, et al. Disparities in Incidence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Among Black and White Women – United States, 2010-2016. MMWR. 2019. Doi: