World Aids Day provides an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with the virus and remember those who have died as a result of it. HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. We look at 10 key facts and statistics about HIV and Aids.
1. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
2. AIDS is the stage of infection that occurs when the immune system is badly damaged and the body becomes vulnerable to opportunistic infections. When the number of CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3), one is considered to have progressed to AIDS.
3. HIV is spread from an infected person to another person through direct contact with some of the body’s fluids. It can be spread through sexual contact, sharing injections, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, occupational exposure and blood transfusion/organ transplant. HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
4. An estimated 37 million people are now living with HIV around the world and 25.3 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
5. More than two-thirds (70 percent) of all people living with HIV, 25.8 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa—including 88 percent of the world’s HIV-positive children. In 2014, an estimated 1.4 million people in the region became newly infected.
6. As of March 2015, around 15 million people living with HIV (41 percent of the total) had access to antiretroviral therapy.
7. According to the World Health Organisation only 53 percent of people living with HIV are estimated to know their status.
8. As of March 2015, 15 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment.
9. Significant progress has also been made in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
10. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible (within 3 days) after exposure to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive.
Source: Avert HIV/Aids, World Health Organisation, aids.gov, Amfar,