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World Aids Day 2017: 10 key facts and figures about HIV and Aids

Today is World Aids Day, chosen to raise awareness across the world about HIV and Aids issues. Here are 10 key facts and figures about HIV and Aids.



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.

HIV can be prevented by correctly and consistently using a condom during sex Photo: Death and Taxes Magazine

HIV can be prevented by correctly and consistently using a condom during sex Photo: Death and Taxes Magazine

4. An estimated 37 million people are now living with HIV around the world. Since the start of the epidemic, an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. In 2016, 1 million people 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.In 2016, there were roughly 1.8 million new HIV infections – a decline from 2.1 million new infections in 2015

7. According to the World Health Organisation only 53 percent of people living with HIV are estimated to know their status.

8. A major milestone was achieved in 2016 where, for the first time, it was found that more than half of all people living with HIV (53%) now have access to life-saving treatment. In 2016, 19.5 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) – up from 17million in June 2016 and 7.5 million in 2010.

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,, Amfar,