The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges:
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , there were approximately 36.9 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2014. Of these, 2.6 million were children (<15 years old).
- According to WHO, an estimated 2.0 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2014. This includes over 220,000 children (<15 years). Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
- A UNAIDS report shows that of the 36.9 million people living with HIV globally, 17.1 do not know they have the virus and need to be reached with HIV testing services, and around 22 million do not have access to HIV treatment, including 1.8 million children.
- The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO, sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with 25.8 million people living with HIV in 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for almost 70 percent of the global total of new HIV infections.
- According to WHO, an estimated 34 million people have died from AIDS-related causes so far, including 1.2 million in 2014.
- Even today, despite advances in our scientific understanding of HIV and its prevention and treatment as well as years of significant effort by the global health community and leading government and civil society organizations, 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. However, effective treatment with antiretroviral drugs can control the virus so that people with HIV can enjoy healthy lives and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
- 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 UNAIDS, in June 2015, 15.8 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, up from 13.6 million in June 2014.
- Progress has been made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and keeping mothers alive. According to UNAIDS, in 2014, 73% of the estimated 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV globally were accessing antiretroviral therapy to avoid transmission of HIV to their children; new HIV infections among children were reduced by 58% from 2000 to 2014.
- 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.
- Read our blog posts on the U.S. Government’s response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- View our World AIDS Day videos.
- Kaiser Family Foundation – The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
- UNAIDS – UNAIDS Strategy, 2016-2020
- UNAIDS – How AIDS Changed Everything
- UNAIDS – The Gap Report
- UNAIDS – Know Your Epidemic: HIV/AIDS Data
- WHO – 10 Facts on HIV/AIDS
- WHO – HIV/AIDS Data and Statistics
- WHO – HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet, 2015
- WHO – WHO's HIV/AIDS Work
Last revised: 11/25/2015