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HIV / AIDS Facts

HIV/AIDS facts have been gathered from a number of references including the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and UNAIDS.  A number of factors surprised the focus group participants as well as the Research Scholars. See the statistics boxes at the conclusion of this page.

  • Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.


  • Health Literacy is  "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions."  This includes how to navigate health care system and communicate with physicians, the communication between patients and providers.  Health literacy also includes decision-making skills and the ability to understand medical information and instructions.



  • Nearly all of us, about 9 of every 10 American adults, have some problems with health literacy. Health literacy is not only about reading. It's about understanding difficult health terms and issues. Even highly educated people can have trouble understanding health care information.


  • Patients are often faced with complex information and treatment decisions. Patients need to:

    - Access health care services
    - Analyze relative risks and benefits
    - Calculate dosages
    - Communicate with health care providers
    - Evaluate information for credibility and quality
    - Interpret test results
    - Locate health information


  • 1. What is the test for?
    2. How many times have you done this procedure?
    3. When will I get the results?
    4. Why do I need this treatment?
    5. Are there any alternatives?
    6. What are the possible complications?
    7. Which hospital is best for my needs?
    8. How do you spell the name of that drug?
    9. Are there any side effects?
    10. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?


  • - Eating or sleeping too much or too little

    - Pulling away from people and usual activities

    - Having low or no energy

    - Feeling numb or like nothing matters

    - Having unexplained aches and pains

    - Feeling helpless or hopeless

    - Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

    - Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

    - Yelling or fighting with family and friends



  • Myth: Mental health problems don't affect me. Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2011, about:

    - One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue

    - One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression

    - One in 20 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 38,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide


  • - Major depression

    - Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

    - Suicide, among young African American men

    - Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because African Americans are more likely to be victims of violent crime


  • - Have you treated other African Americans?

    - Have you received training in cultural competence or on African American mental health?

    - What is your recommended treatment plan, and what are the side effects?

    - How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?

    - How do you plan to integrate my beliefs and practices in my treatment?

    - How will you incorporate family care into my treatment?


  • Yes, but treatment and recovery are processes.  Treatment can come in multiple forms including mental, clinical, community and holistic living including physical wellbeing.

  • These conditions can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status.

    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Borderline Personality Disorder
    • Depression
    • Dissociative Disorders
    • Substance Abuse & Mental Illness (considered Dual Diagnosis)
    • Eating Disorders
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • Panic Disorder
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
    • Schizoaffective Disorder
    • Schizophrenia
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder
    • Suicide
    • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • A medical condition that can interrupt one’s mood, thinking and ability to deal with daily functions. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

  • HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.


    There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. In the United States, unless otherwise noted, the term “HIV” primarily refers to HIV-1.


    HIV stands for 'human immunodeficiency virus'. HIV is a virus that infects cells of the human immune system by destroying or impairing their function and hence reducing the immunity of the human body (UNAIDS, 2012 a). HIV is infectious and can spread from one person to another.

  • AIDS stands for 'Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome' (UNAIDS, 2012 a). After getting infected with the HIV, most people progress to AIDS. This may take any 5 to 10 years (UNAIDS, 2012 a).


    An AIDS diagnosis indicates progression of HIV and is uniformly determined either by a lab test such as a CD4 test or by having certain AIDS defining medical conditions.


    AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers.


    Symptoms of AIDS include fever, diarrhea and cancer.

  • At this time, there is no cure for HIV infection.

  • The best way is to get tested. General symptoms may include persistent fever, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  Other advanced warning signs include (CDC, 2012):

    rapid weight loss, dry cough, recurring fever or profuse night sweats, profound and unexplained fatigue, swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck, diarrhea that lasts for more than a week, white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat, pneumonia, red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids, memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders


  • HIV is transmitted through (UNAIDS, 2012 b):

    1. Unprotected sex (vaginal, anal and to a lesser extent oral sex) with an infected person
    2. Sharing contaminated syringes, needles or other sharp instruments
    3. From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding when the mother is already HIV positive
    4. Blood transfusion with contaminated blood.

  • No. For transmission of HIV to occur there is in most cases transmission of fluids or blood from infected person to the other.

  • - Safe sex
    - Condom use
    - Abstinence



  • Death in an HIV or AIDS infected person is caused by HIV related diseases such as fever, cancer, TB, malaria and any other infections.

  • Choose less risky sexual behaviors, limit your number of sex partners, use condoms, use medicines to prevent HIV if appropriate, and get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The more of these actions you take, the safer you can be.

  • When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. Condoms are also effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) transmitted through body fluids, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. However, they provide less protection against STDs spread through skin-to-skin contact like human papillomavirus (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis.

  • Male Condoms

    Latex condoms provide the best protection against HIV. Polyurethane (plastic) or polyisoprene (synthetic rubber) condoms are good options for people with latex allergies. Natural membrane (such as lambskin) condoms are porous, meaning that infections can pass through them, and therefore do not protect as well against HIV and certain other STDs.

    Female Condoms

    Female condoms are thin pouches made of a synthetic latex product called nitrile.  When worn in the vagina, female condoms are just as effective as male condoms at preventing STDs, HIV and pregnancy. Some people use female condoms for anal sex. However, we do not know how well female condoms prevent HIV and other STDs when used for anal sex. But we do know that HIV cannot travel through the nitrile barrier.

  • Although highly effective when used consistently and correctly, there is still a chance of getting HIV if you only use condoms, so adding other prevention methods can further reduce your risk.

  • Yes, because lubricants can help prevent condoms from breaking. Water-based and silicon-based lubricants are safe to use with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants and products containing oil, such as hand lotion, Vaseline, or Crisco should not be used with latex condoms. It is safe to use any kind of lubricant with nitrile female condoms.

  • No.  Gels, films, or suppositories (Microbicides) can kill or neutralize viruses and bacteria. Researchers are studying both vaginal and rectal microbicides to see if they can prevent sexual transmission of HIV, but none are currently available for use.

  • Source: UNAIDS, (2012b)

    Source: CDC (2010, 2012)

    Source: Pew Charitable Trust (2014)


  • One in four adults −approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Only 2 percent of psychiatrists, 2 percent of psychologists and 4 percent of social workers in the United States are African American.
  • Across a recent 15-year span, suicide rates increased 233 percent among African Americans aged 10-14 compared to 120 percent among Caucasian Americans in the same age group across the same span of time.
  • Adult Health Literacy by Educational Attainment:
    58% - Intermediate Health Literacy with Bachelor’s Degrees or Higher
    30% - Proficient Health Literacy with Bachelor’s Degrees or Higher
    64% - Intermediate with Other College Attendance or Degree
    10% - Proficient with Other College Attendance or Degree
  • Health Literacy for 16 to 49 year olds – 11% Below Basic, 20% Basic, 56% Intermediate, 13% Proficient
  • Mental illness affects 1 in 4 or nearly 60 million Americans annually.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 - 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233%, as compared to 120% of Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • The death rate from suicide for African American men was almost four times that for African American women, in 2009. However, the suicide rate for African Americans is 60% lower than that of the Non-Hispanic White population.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatments as are Non-Hispanic Blacks.
  • African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • African American and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of whites in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.
  • 82 percent of all those infected with HIV know their status, meaning that more than 200,000 Americans now infected with HIV are not aware of their condition.
  • Four of every 10 new HIV infections occur in people younger than 30.
  • The South accounted for nearly half (46%) of new AIDS diagnoses and the AIDS diagnosis rate in the Southern region was only second to the AIDS diagnosis rate in the Northeast region.
  • Half of newly reported HIV infections were in the South although the South accounted for only 37% of the US population.
  • Eight of the 10 US states with the highest rates of new HIV infections were located in the South.
  • Of the total number of new HIV infections in US women in 2009, 57% occurred in blacks, 21% were in whites, and 16% were in Hispanics/Latinas.
  • It is estimated that African Americans are 7 times more likely to be infected by HIV/AIDS than whites.
  • By 2009, an estimated cumulative number of 1,142,714 people had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDs in the US. In the same year an estimated 48,100 people were newly infected with HIV/AIDS in the country. In 2009, there were an estimated 11,200 new HIV infections among women in the United States.
  • Young adults and teens between 13 and 29 represent 34% of new HIV infections, the largest share of any age group. Black teens are disproportionately affected, representing 68% of reported AIDS cases among 13 to 19-year-olds in 2007.
  • In 2009, the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women, and over 3 times the rate among Hispanic/Latina women.
  • The HIV/AIDS epidemic is disproportionately affecting the South East US as well as the black community. The Census Bureau defines the Southern US as consisting of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State