HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
As a result of recent advances in access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-positive people now live longer and healthier lives. In addition, it has been confirmed that ART prevents onward transmission of HIV.
An estimated 28.7 million people were receiving HIV treatment in 2021. Globally, 75% of the 38.4 million people living with HIV in 2021 were receiving ART.
Progress has also been made in preventing and eliminating mother-to-child transmission and keeping mothers alive. In 2021, 81% of all pregnant women living with HIV, or 1.1 million women, received antiretrovirals (ARVs).
WHO has released a set of normative guidelines and provides support to countries in formulating and implementing policies and programmes to improve and scale up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for all people in need.
This fact file provides current data on the disease, and ways to prevent and treat it.
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.
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 of HIV and keeping mothers alive. In 2021, 81% of all pregnant women living with HIV – 1.1 million 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. By the end of 2021, 15 countries and territories were validated for eliminating mother-to-child HIV.
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