Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of the disease.

HIV targets the body’s white blood cells, weakening the immune system. This makes it easier to get sick with diseases like tuberculosis, infections and some cancers.

HIV is spread from the body fluids of an infected person, including blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids. It is not spread by kisses, hugs or sharing food. It can also spread from a mother to her baby.

HIV can be treated and prevented with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Untreated HIV can progress to AIDS, often after many years.

WHO now defines Advanced HIV Disease (AHD) as CD4 cell count less than 200cells/mm3 or WHO stage 3 or 4 in adults and adolescents. All children with HIV younger than 5 years of age are considered to have advanced HIV disease.

HIV remains a major global public health issue, having claimed 40.4 million [32.9–51.3 million] lives so far with ongoing transmission in all countries globally; with some countries reporting increasing trends in new infections when previously on the decline.

There were an estimated 39.0 million [33.1–45.7 million] people living with HIV at the end of 2022, two thirds of whom (25.6 million) are in the WHO African Region.

In 2022, 630 000 [480 000–880 000] people died from HIV-related causes and 1.3 million [1.0–1.7 million] people acquired HIV.

There is no cure for HIV infection. However, with access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.

WHO, the Global Fund and UNAIDS all have global HIV strategies that are aligned with the SDG target 3.3 of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030.

By 2025, 95% of all people living with HIV (PLHIV) should have a diagnosis, 95% of those should be taking lifesaving antiretroviral treatment (ART) and 95% of PLHIV on treatment should achieve a suppressed viral load for the benefit of the person’s health and for reducing onward HIV transmission. In 2022, these percentages were 86(%) [73–>98%], 89(%) 75–>98%] and 93(%) [79–>98%], respectively.

Each year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People around the world unite to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.

Each World AIDS Day focuses on a specific theme, which this year will be Global solidarity, shared responsibility. This year’s theme joins a growing list of challenges that World AIDS Day has alerted people to globally.

Friday, December 1, 2023


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