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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1.1 million people in the US were living with a diagnosed HIV infection at the end of 2021.

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a disease spread through sex that weakens a person’s immune system, compromising their health by attacking the white blood cells that are critical to fighting off disease. When HIV reaches its most advanced stage, it causes AIDS — acquired immunodeficiency syndrome — which leads to progressive failure of the immune system and is incurable, though not all people with HIV develop AIDS.

Early HIV diagnosis is one pillar of the federal government’s plan to end the HIV epidemic.

HIV diagnoses over time

In 2021, 35,769 people were newly diagnosed with HIV. That’s a 7% decrease from 2017 but an 18% increase over 2020. The Department of Health and Human Services attributes the increase to increased testing, as people who delayed healthcare in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to the doctor.

The federal government’s goal is to reduce annual new infections to 9,300 by 2025, and then to 3,000 by 2030.

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Which populations are at higher risk for HIV infection?

Men who have sex with other men are at the highest risk of HIV, accounting for 71% of 2021 diagnoses in people aged 13 or older. The CDC also lists Black and Latino gay and bisexual men as having higher risk, as well as sex workers and people who inject drugs, regardless of race or gender.

HIV diagnoses by race and ethnicity

Black Americans accounted for 40% of new HIV diagnoses in 2021, while 29% were in Hispanic/Latino Americans, 25% in white Americans, 2% in Asian Americans and 1% or less in American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. Approximately 3% of new HIV diagnoses were in Americans who identify as multiracial.

HIV diagnosis rates were more than seven times higher for Black Americans (34.8 per 100,000 people) than white Americans (4.6 per 100,000 people).

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HIV diagnoses by age

More than 56% of all new HIV diagnoses in 2021 were in people under 35 years old. Over ten percent of new diagnoses were in people 55 and older. Diagnoses in 2021 were most prevalent in people aged 25–29 (18.8% of total new diagnoses), 30-34 (17.8%), and 20-24 (15.3%).

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HIV diagnoses by gender and sexual orientation

In 2021, men received 79.1% of all new HIV diagnoses. Women accounted for 18.3% and transgender women for 2.3%. Transgender men and other gender identities together accounted for less than three-tenths of 1%, per CDC data.

Among men, 81.9% of HIV diagnoses in 2021 came from male-to-male sexual contact, and 8.4% came from heterosexual contact. Among women, 81.9% of HIV diagnoses in 2021 came from heterosexual contact.

What percentage of people are aware of their HIV status?

The CDC estimates that 87% of people with HIV were aware of their positive status in 2021. Using data modeling based on actual HIV test numbers, the agency believes that 1,088,769 Americans are living with HIV.

Has HIV status awareness changed over time? 2015-2021

Per CDC estimates, more people living with HIV are aware of their status now than several years ago. In 2015, an estimated 85.1% of people with HIV knew about their positive status, compared to 87% in 2021, which is primarily attributed to increased testing.

Which states have the most new diagnoses?

Nationally, there are 10.8 HIV diagnoses for every 100,000 people. New diagnoses are most common in the South, which sees 14.2 infections per 100,000 people: led by Georgia (26.2), Louisiana (23.3), and Florida (21.7). Other regions were below the nationwide average: The West had 9.2 cases per 100,000, the Northeast had 8.7, and the Midwest 7.0.

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Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2021