Women and HIV: Are Women Less Likely to Have HIV?

Did you know that 23% of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV are women?

This might surprise many readers who see HIV as being a gay man’s disease. However, that just isn’t true. Also, there’s a big difference in the ways HIV impacts women specifically. 

Read on to get accurate, helpful information about women and HIV.

HIV Facts: Demographics Matter

The number of new HIV cases among women in the US is on the decline. Yet race, age, and other demographics mean that some groups are disproportionately impacted more than others. 


African-American women are especially affected by HIV. This group accounts for six of every ten new HIV cases among women.

For African-American women, the rate of HIV diagnosis was 14 times that of white women in the US. For Latinas, it was three times that of white women.

Globally, indigenous communities experience high rates of HIV. There are substantial disparities in HIV rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in various countries.


HIV affects women of every age but especially women in their middle years and older.

In 2018, women aged 45 and older accounted for 36% of new HIV diagnoses. That’s twice the proportion of women under 25 years old.

Transgender Women

Trans women are affected by HIV to a much greater degree than other groups.

In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that the proportion of trans women living with HIV is 49 times higher than in the general adult population.

Is HIV Transmission More Common for Women?

The most common mode of HIV transmission is sex which involves vaginal and penis interaction. In other words, heterosexual sex. 

It’s important to note that HIV is twice as easily passed from an infected man to a woman as the other way around. More than 8 of every 10 women living with HIV got it from sex with a person with a penis. 

Sharing syringes for injecting drugs is another common mode of transmission.

Unfortunately, there are serious gynecological issues that impact women living with HIV. 

Gynecological Issues in Women Living With HIV

When we discuss women and HIV, we must discuss the gynecological issues at stake. 

Certain gynecological conditions are more common, more serious, and/or more difficult to treat in women living with HIV than those who are HIV-negative.

These include the following:

  • Vaginal infections such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections or diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis
  • Genital herpes
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease 

Click here to learn about where to go for affordable STD testing in the US. 

Let’s Keep Talking About Women and HIV

We hope the facts in this article highlight how important it is to continue to have conversations about women and HIV.

Until we remove the stigma around this virus, countless individuals will continue to be negatively impacted.

At the Swell Clinic, we provide professional and discreet sexual wellness and healthcare in a convenient virtual environment. 

Contact us today to book your simple, non-judgmental virtual appointment.