Lesson 2: The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the world’s most serious public health challenges. But there is a global commitment to stopping new HIV infections and ensuring that everyone with HIV has access to HIV treatment.

According to UNAIDS :

Number of People with HIV—There were approximately 38 million people across the globe with HIV/AIDS in 2019. Of these, 36.2 million were adults and 1.8 million were children (<15 years old).

New HIV Infections—An estimated 1.7 million individuals worldwide acquired HIV in 2019, marking a 23% decline in new HIV infections since 2010. (New HIV infections, or “HIV incidence,” refers to the estimated number of people who newly acquired the HIV virus during given period such as a year, which is different from the number of people diagnosed with HIV during a year. (Some people may have HIV but not know it.) Of these new infections:

  • 1.5 million were among adults
  • 150,000 infections were among children (<15 years old)

However, progress on the prevention of HIV transmission remains far too slow, with the estimated total number of new infections in 2019 more than three times higher than UNAIDS’s 2020 target.

HIV Testing—Approximately 81% of people with HIV globally knew their HIV status in 2019. The remaining 19% (about 7.1 million people) still need access to HIV testing services. HIV testing is an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

HIV Treatment Access—As of the end of 2019, 25.4 million people with HIV (67%) were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally. That means 12.6 million people are still waiting. HIV treatment access is key to the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat. People with HIV who are aware of their status, take ART daily as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.

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