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Vulnerable Minorities

The HIV/AIDS epidemic among young people has taken an especially heavy toll on sexual, racial, and ethnic minorities. In 2010:

  • Black youth ages 13–24 accounted for an estimated 57% of the new HIV infections in this age group and Hispanic/Latino youth accounted for 20%.15

  • Young MSM accounted for an estimated 72% of new HIV infections among youth ages 13–24.16

Young black MSM are particularly hard hit, accounting for the majority of new infections among young black men and 55% of young MSM overall.17,18 In fact, HIV incidence among young black MSM is almost three times that of young white or Hispanic MSM in the 13–24 age group. This demographic has also seen the highest increase, with a jump of 48% in HIV cases between 2007 and 2010.19,20


Bar Graph of Estimates of New HIV Infections Among Youth Ages 13-24 by Race/Ethnicity and Sex, US 2010

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV among youth [fact sheet]. March 2014. Available at: (PDF – 222 KB). Exit Disclaimer Accessed April 8, 2014.

View as a table
Estimates of New HIV Infections among Youth Ages 13–24 by Race/Ethnicity and Sex, United States, 2010



Male 5,600 2,100 2,100
Female 1,400    290    280


Young MSM of color tend to get tested and diagnosed with HIV later in the course of the disease than their white counterparts, making them more likely to transmit the virus unknowingly to others and ultimately progress to AIDS.21 They also face barriers to HIV primary care and treatment stemming from the socioeconomic issues that affect their communities as a whole, including poverty, racism, stigma, limited or no health insurance, lack of transportation, homelessness, substance use, under- or unemployment, limited education attainment, and low health literacy.22 As a result, they tend to enter HIV primary care later, if at all, undermining the efficacy of their treatment and health outcomes. In addition, young MSM are more likely to have older sex partners who are, in turn, more likely to be infected by HIV.23

While rates of HIV among young men of color may exceed those of their female counterparts, young women of color still face disproportionately high rates of HIV compared to young white women. Black and Hispanic women make up only about one-fourth (26%) of female youth in the United States, yet they account for 79% of all reported HIV infections among 13- to 19-year-old women and 75% of HIV infections among 20- to 24-year-old women.24 In addition, women of color are more likely to be younger when they become infected. Approximately 23% of new infections among black women and 21% among Hispanic women occurred among 13–24 year-olds, compared to just 16% of new infections among white women.25

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