Read here 13 facts you didn’t know about HIV/AIDS, according to who.int.
1. HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
2. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune system. Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body’s ability to fend off some infections and other diseases. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or related cancers.
3. HIV can be transmitted in several ways
HIV can be transmitted through: unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person, transfusions of contaminated blood, the sharing of contaminated needles, syringes or other sharp instruments, the transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
4. As of early 2015, 15 million people were receiving ART worldwide.
Of these, close to 13.5 million live in low- and middle-income countries. WHO recommends initiating ART when their CD4 cell counts falls to 500 cells/mm³ or less. ART regardless of CD4 count is recommended for all people living with HIV in serodiscordant couples, pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV, people with TB and HIV, and people co-infected with HIV and hepatitis B infection with severe chronic liver disease. Likewise, ART is recommended for all children living with HIV who are younger than 5 years-old. Reaching all eligible people with treatment remains a huge challenge.
5. 36.9 million people are living with HIV worldwide.
Globally, an estimated 36.9 million [34.3–41.4 million] people were living with HIV in 2014, and 2.6 million [2.4–2.8 million] of these were children. The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 2.0 million [1.9–2.2 million] people were newly infected with the virus in 2014. An estimated 34 million people have died from AIDS-related causes so far, including 1.2 million [1.0–1.5 million] in 2014.
6. As a result of recent advances in access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-positive people now live longer and healthier lives.
7. Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents the HIV virus from multiplying in the body
If the reproduction of the HIV virus stops, then the body’s immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner decreases dramatically by 96%.
8. At the end of 2014, 14.9 million people were receiving ART worldwide; this represents 40% [37–45%] of the 36.9 million [34.3–41.4 million] people living with HIV.
9. HIV testing can help to ensure treatment for people in need.
Access to HIV testing and medicines should be dramatically accelerated in order to reach the goal of Ending AIDS by 2030. Approximately 150 million children and adults in 129 low- and middle-income countries reportedly received HIV testing services in 2014. However, HIV testing reach is still very limited, as only an estimated 51% of people with HIV know their infection status.
10. Progress has also been made in preventing and eliminating mother-to-child transmission and keeping mothers alive. In 2014, a little over 7 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV, or 1 070 000 women, received antiretrovirals (ARVs).
11. An estimated 2.6 million children are living with HIV.
According to 2014 figures most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Close to 220 000 children [190 000–260 000] became newly infected with HIV in 2014.
12. Elimination of mother-to-child-transmission is becoming a reality.
Access to preventive interventions remains limited in many low- and middle-income countries. But progress has been made in some areas such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission and keeping mothers alive. In 2014, a little over 7 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV – 1 070 000 women – received antiretrovirals worldwide. In 2015, Cuba was the first country declared by WHO as having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
13. HIV is the strongest risk factor for developing active TB disease
In 2013, approximately 360 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV. That is one fourth of the estimated 1.5 million deaths from HIV in that year. The majority of people living with both HIV and TB reside in sub-Saharan Africa (about 78% of cases worldwide).