What are the risk factors for HIV/AIDS?

Anyone can get HIV/AIDS. When HIV/AIDS first was recognized some 20 years ago, it was almost exclusively a disease of white, homosexual males. This is no longer the case. In South Carolina, nearly 50% of cases reported in 2000 were transmitted through heterosexual (male/female) contact. African Americans were nine times as likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS as whites. Women and children are increasingly at risk.

Approximately one-third of HIV cases are women. In South Carolina, almost 70% of those with AIDS or HIV are African Americans.

The "changing face of HIV/AIDS" points to a number of risk factors in addition to unprotected male homosexual sex. The Centers for Disease Control says you are at risk of HIV infection if you:

  • Have shared injection drug needles and syringes or "works"
  • Have had sex without a condom with an HIV-positive partner
  • Have had a sexually transmitted disease, like chlamydia or gonorrhea
  • Had a blood transfusion or received a blood clotting factor between 1978 and 1985
  • Have had sex with someone who has done any of those things

Many of these risk factors are behavioral in nature. In other words, by avoiding high-risk behaviors, you can reduce or virtually eliminate your risk of HIV/AIDS infection. Learn the risk factors. If necessary, change your behavior.

To learn more:

National HIV Testing Resource
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
This site informs about how to get tested, where to get tested, resources for people who test positive, and counseling. Basic information for those who think they might be infected with HIV.
HIV Risk and Prevention
HIV Risk and Prevention Is a basic discussion of HIV/AIDS prepared by the Division of AIDS Prevention of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.

next » How does a person get HIV/AIDS?

Written by: Janice C. May, M.P.A.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Links by: Lisa Antley-Hearn. B.A.
Last Modified: Friday November 08, 2019 7:21 PM