The Facts

Fact Sheet - Women and HIV/AIDS

Women and HIV/AIDS, 2001, SIECUS (Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States)

While there is a lack of urgency seen toward educating women, the reality is that women were greatly affected by this disease. In this fact sheet circulate in 2001, it is estimated that 25% of the Americans living with HIV/AIDS are women. While in the early 2000s there had been great strides in advancing medical treatment, educating the public, and lessening hysteria, women benefited much less than men in these outreach campaigns. The number of AIDS-related deaths had declined much slower than men's. In 1998 HIV/AIDS was the 5th leading cause of death for women. While infection rates among men had fallen 60%, for women it had only fallen 26%. 

This publication circulated by the Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States also highlights the intersectionality between race and gender in infection numbers. As cited in this report, women of color have represented the majority of new cases since the beginning of the AIDS crisis. The chance of infection is 21 times greater for African American women when compared to white women. 

African American Congregation

John White, African American Congregation in Chicago, 1973, U.S . National Archives and Records Administration

One way in which African American communities tried to combat these disproportionate transmission rates was through church organizations. In an entry in the Journal of Religion and Health authors Madeline Sutton and Carolyn Parks analyze the effectiveness of religious participation as an educational tool. Black communities are disproportionately more at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS but are also more likely to adopt some form of religious belief. In these communities, leaders of faith are seen as pillars of the community. During the AIDS crisis, this was no different. As trusted sources of public information, they had the power to help reduce HIV infections and lower the number of new cases by promoting an environment of nonjudgement. While it may seem contradictory to pair religion and sexual education, communities that were able to create spirituality-based support groups saw lower rates of transmission and better educational programs.