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The HIV/AIDS Epidemic


·         An estimated 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, 95% of whom live in developing countries.  In 2001, approximately five million people were newly infected with the virus.

·         HIV/AIDS has killed more than 20 million people worldwide.  Approximately 3 million people died of AIDS-related causes in 2001. 

·         AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa and the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide.


Impact on Women, Youth, and Children

·         In 2001, approximately 1.1 million women and 580,000 children under the age of 15 died of AIDS-related causes.

·         Women are increasingly affected by HIV/AIDS.  ly almost 50% of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women.

·         An estimated 10.3 million young people ages 15-24 are living with HIV/AIDS.  Half of all new HIV infections – almost 6,000 infections per day – occur among young people.

·         More than 13 million children under the age of 15 have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and this number is projected to double by 2010. 


Regional Impact

·         Sub-Saharan Africa.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s worst-affected region.  Seventy percent of all people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, even though it is home to only 11% of the world’s overall population.  In 2001, an estimated 3.4 million people in the region were newly infected with HIV.

·         The Caribbean.  After sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean is the next hardest-hit region as measured by HIV/AIDS prevalence. In Haiti, for example, 8% of adults in urban areas and 4% of adults in rural areas are infected with HIV.

·         Eastern Europe.  Eastern Europe continues to experience the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world, with 250,000 new infections in 2001 – bringing the total number of HIV-positive people in the region to approximately one million.

·         Asia and the Pacific.  In Asia and the Pacific, approximately 7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.  Three countries, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, have HIV prevalence rates above 1% among 15 to 49 year olds.  


Social, Economic, and Development Impact

·         AIDS was declared a development crisis by the World Bank in 2000.  It is estimated that per capita growth in half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa is falling by 0.5%-1.2% each year as a direct result of AIDS.  By 2010, per capita GDP in some of the hardest-hit countries may drop by 8% and per capita consumption may fall even farther.

·         Health care systems in many countries are overwhelmed by a growing number of HIV/AIDS patients. Studies forecast that health care costs in hardest hit countries may increase tenfold over the next several years as a result of the epidemic.

·         HIV/AIDS overburdens social systems and hinders educational development. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the disease is claiming the lives of thousands of teachers and leading to school closures.

·         The epidemic also inhibits agricultural production in many areas by reducing investments in irrigation, soil enhancement, and other capital improvements. 


Prevention and Care

·         There is abundant evidence that science-based HIV prevention is effective, especially when backed by high-level political leadership, a national AIDS programme, adequate funding, and strong community involvement.  Components of successful prevention efforts include clear and accurate communication about HIV/AIDS and methods to prevent infection, HIV counseling and testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

·         The vast majority of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world do not have access to treatment, as a result of limited health care infrastructures and the high cost of many medications.

·         It has been estimated that a total of US$7-10 billion a year is needed from all sources to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in low and middle-income countries.  

Portions of this fact sheet are reproduced with permission from UNAIDS and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Updated April 9, 2002

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