Information About HIV/AIDS

Talking About Sex With Your Partner

Bringing up something as serious as HIV/AIDS can be difficult.  However, having a conversation about your partner’s sexual history, HIV status and safe sex shouldn't be negotiable. If you try to have a conversation about these topics with a partner who does not want to engage you, you should think twice about taking your relationship to an intimate level. You could be putting yourself at risk and nothing is more sacred than your body and your health. 

Don’t wait until you get into the bedroom to talk to your partner about their sexual history.  Getting to know somebody and cultivating a relationship should include getting to know more about your partner’s sexual history and safe sex practices.  If your partner is unwilling to share that history with you then it’s unlikely that your relationship will last.

Know Your Status:  Get Tested

It is very important to know your status.  The only way to learn your status is to get tested.  HIV does not discriminate. It is not who you are, but what you do that determines whether you can become infected with HIV. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may have placed yourself at risk for becoming infected with HIV or other STDs:

  • Have you injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (such as needles, syringes, works) with others?
  • Have you had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with men who have sex with men, multiple partners, or anonymous partners?
  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like syphilis or HPV?
  • Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions?

African Americans

African Americans are one of the largest minority groups at risk for HIV/AIDS. Of the 43,171 cases diagnosed in 2003 in the United States, African Americans accounted for 49 percent of these diagnosed cases. When examining the cumulative cases of HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, African Americans have comprised 40 percent of the 929,169 cases. As reported by the Center for Disease Control, the greatest factors affecting HIV/AIDS transmission in the African American community are male-to-male sexual contact in males and heterosexual contact in females. Other risk factors and prevention barriers include substance abuse, denial about sexuality, and socioeconomic situations.

Caribbean

The area of the Caribbean has reported 390,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Yet, this number severely underestimates the actual number of cases in the Caribbean, which has been estimated at close to 500,000 people. Among the English-speaking people of the Caribbean, it is reported that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in males aged 15 to 44. The main hindrances to the proper treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS in this area, are lack of standardized HIV testing, underreporting, and limited access to HIV/AIDS counseling in diverse communities.

Hispanics

The Hispanic community has the second highest rate of diagnoses among minorities. In 2006, the rate of new infections among Hispanic/Latino men was more than double that of white men (43/100,000 vs. 20/100,000) and while Hispanic/Latino women represented a quarter (24%) of new infections among Hispanics/Latinos, their rate of HIV infection was nearly four times that of white women (14.4/100,000 vs. 3.8/100,000). In 2007, HIV was the fifth leading cause of death among Hispanics/Latinos aged 35–44 and the sixth leading cause of death among Hispanics/Latinos aged 25–34 in the US. The transmission of HIV/AIDS in Hispanic males has been attributed to male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use. In contrast, HIV/AIDS transmission for Hispanic females is largely due to heterosexual contact and injection drug use. Like other minority groups, the main barriers for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS are poverty, denial, and substance abuse.

Gay, Lesbians and Bisexuals

Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to account for the largest number of people reported with HIV/AIDS each year. According to CDC, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the U.S. is more than 44 times that of other men. Data shows that the number of infections among young gay and bisexual men is substantially increasing. Even though female-to-female transmission of HIV/AIDS appears to be a rare occurrence among women who have sex with women (WSW), some groups of WSW have relatively high rates of high-risk behaviors, such as injection drug use and unprotected vaginal sex with gay/bisexual men. With an increasing population of gay/lesbians/bisexuals and the continuance of high-risk behaviors among them, prevention services must reach both uninfected and infected.