Where do we stand?

Estimated number of children (0-17 years) who have lost one of both parents to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa (2008)

Bar Chart

Quick Facts

  • Every day over 7,400 people are infected with HIV and 5,500 die from AIDS- related illnesses. HIV remains the leading cause of death among reproductive-age women worldwide.
  • An estimated 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008, two thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Access to HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries increased ten-fold over a span of just five years.
  •  Malaria kills a child in the world every 45 seconds. Close to 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where it accounts for a fifth of childhood mortality.
  • 1.8 million people died from tuberculosis in 2008, about 500,000 of whom were HIV-positive.
A young girl reads under her malaria net in West Bengal, India.
Preventing Malaria. Photo: Joydeep Mukherjee

Tangible progress in global fight against AIDS

The global response to AIDS has demonstrated tangible progress toward the achievement of MDG 6. The number of new HIV infections fell steadily from a peak of 3.5 million in 1996 to 2.7 million in 2008. Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses also dropped from 2.2 million in 2004 to two million in 2008. Although the epidemic appears to have stabilized in most regions, new HIV infections are on the rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Globally, the number of people living with HIV is continuing to increase because of the combined effect of new HIV infections and the beneficial impact of antiretroviral therapy.

Children in sub-Sahara affected most by loss of parents

There are 17.5 million children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. More than 80 per cent of them (14.1 million) are in sub-Saharan Africa. Knowledge about HIV is the first step to avoiding its transmission. Yet less than one third of young men and only a fifth of young women in developing countries know basic facts about the virus. Although condom use has gained acceptance in some countries, global use remains low, especially among young adults in developing countries.

More access to antiretroviral therapy needed

Antiretroviral treatment has expanded, but continues to be outpaced by HIV infection rates. When antiretroviral therapy was launched in 2003, only 400,000 people were receiving it. By the end of 2009, more than five million people were on treatment. But for every two individuals starting HIV treatment each year, five are newly infected. Access to antiretroviral therapy is particularly important for pregnant women, as most of the 2.1 million children under the age of 15 living with HIV were infected while in the womb, at birth or through breastfeeding. In 2008, 45 per cent of HIV-positive expectant mothers in low-and middle-income countries received treatment, up from 35 per cent in the previous year. In 2008 alone, over 60,000 HIV infections among at-risk babies were prevented because their HIV-positive mothers received treatment.

Funding has helped control malaria

Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. There were an estimated 243 million cases of malaria in 2008, causing 863,000 deaths, 89 per cent of them in Africa. The disease is also a chief contributor to anemia among children and pregnant mothers. Major increases in funding have recently helped control malaria. Global production of mosquito nets rose from 30 million to 150 million annually between 2004 and 2009. Artemisinin-based antimalarial medication has also become more readily available, though coverage varies sharply by country. External funding for malaria control has risen sharply in recent years, and reached $1.5 billion in 2009 — still far short of the estimated $6 billion needed in 2010 alone to meet the MDG target.

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