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Global AIDS Overview

35.3 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS 95% of new infections occur in individuals living in low-and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. 3.34 million children worldwide are living with HIV. Most of these children were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

The Global HIV/AIDS Crisis Today

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has become one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges:

  • 35.3 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS, including 2.1 million adolescents (10-19 years).
  • HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 36 million people have died since the first cases were reported in 1981 and 1.6 million people died of HIV/AIDS in 2012.
  • According to WHO, in 2012, an estimated 2.3 million individuals worldwide were newly infected with HIV.
  • While cases have been reported in all regions of the world, 95% of new infections occur in individuals living in low- and middle-income countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV. Sixty-nine percent of all people who are living with HIV in the world live in this region.
  • According to WHO, an estimated 3.34 million children worldwide are living with HIV. Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Over 700 children become newly infected with HIV each day.
  • Most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.
  • The HIV epidemic not only affects the health of individuals, it impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.
  • Despite these challenges, there have been successes and promising signs. New global efforts have been mounted to address the epidemic, particularly in the last decade. Prevention has helped to reduce HIV prevalence rates in a small but growing number of countries and new HIV infections are believed to be on the decline. In addition, the number of people with HIV receiving treatment in resource-poor countries has dramatically increased in the past decade. According to WHO, at the end of 2012, close to million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low- and middle-income countries. Of this, about 640 000 were children. This is more than a 30-fold increase in the number of people receiving ART in developing countries between 2003 and 2012, and almost a 20% increase in just one year (from 8 million in 2011 to 9.7 million in 2012). However, almost 19 million other people who are eligible for ART under new 2013 WHO ART guidelines still do not have access to antiretroviral drugs.

This overview compiled with information from WHO Exit Disclaimer, UNAIDS, and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Global Health Policy Division. Exit Disclaimer

The United States supports a wide range of activities—from research and development to technical assistance and financial support to other nations—to combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Read about PEPFAR and the U.S. Government’s global HIV/AIDS activities.

On World AIDS Day 2013, the White House released a new fact sheet detailing our nation’s efforts to address the HIV epidemic, both domestically and globally. Read the fact sheet.

Last revised: 12/18/2013